The Daily Star (Lebanon)
25th Salon du Livre explores technology-literature ties
BEIRUT: With the ambassadors of Switzerland, Belgium and France in attendance, Lebanon’s Institut Francais unveiled the program of its annual Salon du Livre Monday. The 25th edition of Beirut’s francophone book fair will center on technology in literature, incorporating unconventional forms of literature for the first time.
Salon du Livre organizers say they hosted 80,000 visitors last year. This year’s fair will run from 3-11 November at the newly renovated (and relocated) Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure center, in Furn al-Shubbak. Over 180 authors from all over the francophone world will be participating.
With its focus on digitalization of literature, SdL will this year stage an exhibition dedicated to technology in the publishing industry. Culturally focused Lebanese tech companies will present virtual reality technology, workshops about reading technology and discussions on the possibility of using technology to share cultural history, among other things.
SdL is not just an event where people can buy francophone literature. Celebrating SdL for “promoting the richness of cultural and linguistic diversity in Lebanon,” Culture Ministry advisor Lynn Tehini said the fair also provides a platform for the exchange of dynamic and modern ideas.
Speaking about the theme of this year’s SdL, French Ambassador Bruno Foucher said panel discussions with authors and scholars will focus on such topics as “secularism, the rewriting of history, the memory of the Civil War, the manipulation of information, regional crises.”
Debates such as “A Critical History of the Modern Ottoman” with Edhem Eldem and Carole AndréDessornes, “Fragments of Exile During the Lebanese War,” with Nada Abilamaa Masson, May Hazaz and Eva Hachem are among the many events on offer.
The French ambassador does not believe francophone culture is dying in Lebanon. “More than half of the million students in Lebanon study in Arabic and French,” Foucher said. Francophone culture should be celebrated as a part of the literary and scholarly scene in Lebanon, which “does not mean falling back on [French]” as the only language.
That is one reason why Arabic publishers are a big part of SdL. As one of the main goals is to promote cultural and linguistic exchange, this year the fair will showcase the work of francophone authors whose work has been translated into Arabic. The winners of two Arabic literary prizes – the Jeunes critiques libanais and Le Choix Goncourt de l’Orient – will also be announced at the fair.
A myriad of genres – from fiction and children’s books to history and comic books – will be on display. Among the long list of authors lined up to attend the festival are Elias Khoury, arguably Lebanon’s bestknown living fiction writer, awardwinning French playwright Véronique Olmi and historian Leyla Dakhli.
Offering activities for all ages, the Salon du Livre has invited 22,000 students from Lebanon’s public and private schools. While the mornings are reserved for classes to enjoy the fair, the general public can visit the Salon du Livre in the afternoons.