BOOK FAIR: EGYPT GUEST OF HONOUR, DISPUTE STIFLED
by Cristiana Missori)
(ANSAmed) - ROME - ''Inviting Egypt to the 22nd edition of the International Book Fair in Turin represents an important occasion to show the progress that has been made by our country in the cultural area and others as well. Our presence in the capital of the Piedmont region is a clear reflection of the intense cultural, political and economic relations that have existed for recent decades between Italy and Egypt.''
The Egyptian ambassador in Rome, Asharf Rashed, is enthusiastic about the opportunity that has been given to his country and, even if incidentally, repeats it to those who have criticised the decision made by the prestigious show in Turin.
''Today as yesterday, Egypt represents the cultural lighthouse that guides the Arab world'', Rashed remarked. And to those, like the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Italy or the Palestinian Forum, who have accused Egypt of tightening the siege around the Gaza Strip, just like Israel, and have proposed boycotting their presence at the expo, the ambassador replied: ''Egyptians have done a lot to support the Palestinian cause. We have gone to war on more than one occasion for them and today we are working very hard on the peace process in the Middle East and for a positive outcome. Turin is a great opportunity not only for Egyptian culture, but also for that of the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. Boycotting the event goes beyond any logic.''
Rashed doesn't leave out any details in his description of the ambitious programme that from May 14-18 will see his country in the spotlight at the most important book event on the peninsula.
''The primary objective is to increase awareness for both the general public and Italian publishers of the long list of Egyptian writers'', only in part discovered by readers on the northern shore of the Mediterranean: from Ala Al Aswani (Palazzo Yacoubian, Feltrinelli, 2006) to Ibrahim Abd al-Magid, author of Jouvence della Casa del Gelsomino' (2007); from Khaled al Khamissi (Taxi, Il Sirente, 2007), to the emerging Ahmed Alaidj, born in 1974, author of 'Being Abbas El Abd', translated into English by the American University of Cairo Press.
''Egypt is a breeding ground from which'', the ambassador stressed, ''I don't exclude that the next Naguib Mahfouz could come out of'', the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, for whom the expo will dedicate a reading of his best pages, together with a retrospective on the 19th century masters like Taha Hussein, the playwright Tawfik el-Hakim and the poet Salah Abdel Sabour. And if the connecting thread of the festivities is to be the theme of the ego and the relation to the 'other', the diverse, understood as a possible enemy, Egypt and Italy will present a project dedicated to young readers as well.
''For about the last year'', Rashed continued, ''Italian and Egyptian publishers have been working together on the translation of some volumes so that Egyptian children can read the books that their Italian counterparts read and vice versa.''
It is a way, the diplomat said, to demonstrate that young people read similar things, if not similar then the same things, ''and to dismantle this absurd theory on diversity that some people continue to propagate''.
With ''Egypt in the feminine'', on the other hand, the Book Fair in Turin is going to celebrate internationally acclaimed intellectuals like Radwa Ashour, writer and illustrator translated in 13 countries including Italy (Fabbri, Giunti, Mondadori, Fatatrac); Salwa Bakr, theatre and film critic and Ahdaf Soueif, author of 'Il Profumo delle notti sul Nilo' (Piemme, 2001); or the dissident Nawal Al Saadawi, invited by the organisers of the expo, but not by the Egyptian government. There are also many events scheduled for the rest of the city, dedicated to archaeology, with the show of Buried Treasures on at the Venaria Reale Palace, or the meetings where scholars Zahi Hawass, Edda Bresciani and Francesco Tiradritti (curator of the exhibition on Akhenaton at the Bricherasio Palace). There will also be shows dedicated to traditional Egyptian music, dance and storytelling.
FONTE (imagem incluída): ANSAmed - Rome,Italy