Friday, February 06, 2009

Jerusalem Book Fair on Track

by Edward Nawotka -- Publishers Weekly, 2/2/2009

After the recent fighting in Gaza, Americans planning to travel to the biennial Jerusalem Book Fair, taking place February 15–20, might be reconsidering their plans. The peace seems fragile, but fair director Yoel Mako said all events remain in place. “People need not worry,” said Mako. “I'm quite sure everything will be quite nice by the time of the fair. I would say very openly that even when there is fighting taking place in Gaza, life in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv is quite normal.”

He said the fighting has had “no effect whatsoever” on plans for the fair. “We have 30 writers coming from all over the world. All of the cultural programs are proceeding and there have been no cancellations.” Among those expected from the U.S. are some 50 people from the trade community, including those who participate in the fair's editorial and agent fellowship programs. In all, some 80,000 members of the public are also expected, primarily to shop for books. “The strength of the fair is the cultural programs and activities that connect international and Israeli writers,” said Mako. “Amos Oz, for example, is launching his new book. I'm quite sure that during the fair there will be discussion about the affairs of the region. In fact, we encourage it.”

This year the fair's top honor, the Jerusalem Prize, will be awarded to Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. The prize is given to an author “for literary achievements in the field of freedom of the individual in society.”

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