The 2018 Bahrain International Book Fair: Breaking Your Fast with an Onion

The choice, in the vicinity of the 15th–century Arad Fort and with a view of the sea, compromises the overall exhibition space and accessibility to the venue. Mariam Al-Doseri is a feelance scribbler based in Bahrain. Still a few Bahraini veterans are signing their new releases; essayist and playwright Aqeel Swar is releasing a collection of colloquial poems, Mood for Love (Arab Institute for Studies and Publishing, 2018); there’s novelist and scenarist Fareed Ramadhan’s latest The English Ocean (Dar Soual, 2018); Ahmed Radhi also spins Marquez’s Macondo into the small Bahraini town of Ma’ameer, Ma’ameerndo (Faradees, 2018); as well as translations by Abdulqader Aqeel and Amin Saleh, with, respectively, a critical reading of the history of horror movies and a number of literary and philosophical essays. However, a select list of 24 exhibitors made their way to Bahrain. The unfortunate timing of the fair undoubtedly has affected the quality and quantity of exhibitors and side events, including book releases, meet-and-greets, and signing events. Advertisements

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1 reply

DearLife (@raindaughter)

April 4, 2018 • 5:38 pm

I agree only with the criticism of the venue, which is really poor in accessibility, space, parking area, and facilities. LikeLike

Reply ↓ Photo credit: Bahrain International Book Fair
Saudi exhibitors had their hands full with the Riyadh fair, and relocating so soon after its end seems like a logistical nightmare. The country’s yearlong celebration of Muharraq, as the 2018 Capital of Islamic Culture, was behind the inconvenient choice of venue. All announcements are scheduled to be made on Saturday, April 7 at 10:00 SAT. Interestingly enough, the fair manages to strike a balance — often absent — between genres. Newcomers to the literary scene include Yousif Albinkhalil’s debut novel Green Sea, Red Pearls (Albinkhalil, 2018); Zeyad Ali Abdulghafar’s   Gulf Rhythms: A Novel about Alnaham Bader alSadeh (Arab Institute for Studies and Publishing, 2018); and Khalifa al-Khalifa’s self-published science fiction novel, in English, Dissensus (CreateSpace, 2018). You know thing are a bit crammed when AlSaqi does not have its usual extended booth. When patience is poorly rewarded, you will certainly hear Bahrainis express their frustration by likening the situation to “breaking one’s fast with an onion.” And after a little over a year’s worth of waiting, Bahrain’s 18th International Book Fair is that onion. It’s true we’ve missed some important publishers (missed Egyptian Alsharooq, Lebanese Alrafidain, and Alshabaka Alarabiya) but overall, I feel the fair’s offering of books was more than my expectation (which I admit, are not much) and I was happy with the collection I bought. Yet when it comes to literature, the onion is not even fresh; the absence of Saudi writers — think Mohamed Alwan, winner of last year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction; or Badryah el-Bishr, whose books are available despite controversy; or Abdulla al-Sufyani, whose latest poetry collection is fresh off the press — is perplexing. Onion or no onion, household names like AlMutawasit, AlSaqi and AlJamal are stocked up with newly released books of fiction and non-fiction, and readers should not miss The United Arab Emirates’ Kalimat Publishing Group, which never disappoints with titles for starters and young adults, and Nahed al-Shawa’s award-winning Noon has a beautiful range of little books with big messages. The fair will conclude with the announcement of the 2018 Bahrain Book Award, under the theme “Literature and Shaping the World,” aimed specifically at works from Saudi Arabia, as well as the Mohamed al-Banki Award for the Cultural Personality of the Year and the Bahrain Pearl Award, given in recognition of significant contributions to cultural research. She’s interested in arts and culture, with a focus on literature and languages. Unfortunately timed, this year’s fair has failed to impress:
By Mariam F Al-Doseri
Photo credit: Dr Thuraya Juma. There has been no clarity with regard to the change, but the decision, whatever the reasons, contributed to disappointment. At the end of the fair in 2016, Algeria was nominated as a guest of honor at the subsequent edition, only to be replaced, rather abruptly, by Saudi Arabia. Visitors have been invited to a handful of events, including live performances by the traditional Saudi band Nagham, a photo exhibition about Saudi-Bahraini ties, and a few rotating art exhibitions by Saudi artists demonstrating their skills in wood carving and painting on leather, in addition to a few movie screenings by Saudi filmmakers. The fair was untimely, launched four days after Riyadh’s and a day ahead of Baghdad’s, whose fairs respectively attracted readerships who had previously often been willing to cross the causeway or fly over to Bahrain for an event with fewer publishing restrictions, and an exciting line-up of visiting authors. On the other hand, there are several publishers who participate for the first time in Bahrain and it’s amazing: UAE Kalimat group, EGYPT AlAain, Saudi Milad, kuwaiti dar Alkhan, and there are many fresh new literature releases which I don’t normally expect to see in Bahrain (not so soon). However, Bahrain bookfair has never been more than a book sales venue, it was always poor in events in the previous years so for me I’m not expecting anything, and thus, not disappointed! The 18th edition of the Bahrain International Book Fair   opened its doors on March 28 and is set to run through April 7.