Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Beirut 39

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Beirut 39

New Writing from the Arab World

by Samuel Shimon

Beirut 39 by Samuel Shimon
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    Jun 2010, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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Beirut 39
This anthology is a joint venture between the Hay Festival and the Beirut World Capital of the Book 2009.

Beirut 39Beirut 39 derives its title from 'Beirut39', a group of thirty-nine writers of Arab heritage who were all born in or after 1970. The countries of origin represented in the anthology include Palestine, Saudia Arabia, Syria, Oman, Jordan, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt, among others.

These writers met for workshops, readings, and discussions as part of the Hay Festival, a week-long literary event held in early summer in Haye-on-Wye, a town in the west of England widely known for its bookshops. Once called the "Woodstock of the mind" by Former President Clinton, the festival began in 1988 and is currently sponsored by the British newspaper, The Guardian.

Drawing nearly 80,000 visitors each year, the Hay Festival has also inspired sister festivals in Segovia, Alhambra, Cartagena, Zacatecas, Maldives and Nairobi, as well as related events, the most recent of which is the Brecon Jazz festival in August of 2010. The Hay initiatives seek to foster a sense of international community and a spirit of discovery, featuring prominent and emerging literary figures. In their respective ways, they seek to highlight "multiculturalism and social commitment" and to serve as a "platform for readers, writers, listeners and thinkers".

Interesting Links:
The Hay Festivals' website.
The website of the town of Hay on Wye.

Image: Some of the Beirut 39. Click for a full display of images linked to brief bios.

Article by Karen Rigby

This article is from the August 4, 2010 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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