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A Sign of Peace: Arab Books Represented at Biennial Fair

Advances in the Middle East peace process were evident last week at the 17th International Book Fair, which for the first time included books from the Arab world.

Publishing houses from Egypt and Morocco were represented at the biennial fair. Books from Jordan were also sent, though without a representative. Together these books were displayed under the banner, “Books From the Arab World.”

The changes in the region’s political climate brought other new participants to the fair as well: Vietnam, Taiman, Turkey, Korea, Singapore, Nepal, the Baltic States and Finland.

The Vatican, another first-time participant, sent from its library a collection of ancient Hebrew ,manuscripts for a special exhibition at the fair.

Among the 10 original Hebrew manuscripts sent by the Vatican were a collection of exegetic texts on the Bible, including the Sifra, a manuscript from eighth century Babylonia; Bereshit Rabba, a well-known manuscript from the 11th century; and a Rashi commentary on the Bible from the 13th century.

The one-week fair, which ended last Friday, had on display more than 100,000 books and CD-ROMs, representing 1,400 publishers from more than 50 countries.

The special displays included a German exhibition depiction the 30 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.

A Spanish display 150 books about Jewish history and culture.

Also among the fair’s highlights were reading by writers and poets, including German poet Wolf Biermann and Egyptian author and playwright Ali Salem.

The prestigious Jerusalem Prize was awarded to Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa for his contribution to individual freedom in society.

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