Thousands of books were on display at the 11th Palestine International Book Fair held at the newly established National Library. (WAFA Images / Hamza Shalash)
Thousands of books were on display at the 11th Palestine International Book Fair held at the newly established National Library. (WAFA Images / Hamza Shalash)

The 11th Palestine International Book Fair went on for ten days in the West Bank city of Ramallah, attracting nearly 500 publishers and libraries.

The event was held in the premises of a grand building, which is expected to be the Palestinian National Library, standing at a hilltop overlooking the cities of Ramallah and Bireh from the northern side.

The main slogans at the entrance of the fair read “Palestine the homeland, Jerusalem the capital” and “Young readers, future leaders,” bringing together the two issues at the center of most Palestinians’ attention.

This year’s fair features an orchestrated set of side events, including several talks and book launches by visiting Arab writers, symposia, art workshops, as well as art works and tag lines created by Palestinian artists and authors highlighting historical moments in the Palestinian history since 1917.

Palestinian Minister of Culture Ehab Bseiso told Xinhua that several writers and publishers were prohibited by the Israeli government from attending the event, but still the fair is an opportunity to “reflect the vibrant society and culture,” despite many obstacles.

“When we started planning for the Book Fair, we took into consideration a combination of history, memory and the present. That is why we had to bring a mix of flavors between artists and poets and general themes that bring Palestine, from the past, from history, to the young generations,” said Bseiso.

“It is introduced through slogans, mottos that have been written by writers and poets and art works produced by Palestinian artists during the last century,” he added.

After consulting with some publishers, it appeared that children’s books are the bestsellers among all.

Akram Barghouti, member of Palestinian Publishers Union, said that the books that were picked up most were children’s books, which made him happy “because this makes reading a personal habit to young people.”

He went on explaining that “in general, not only in the fair, but also in the libraries, the bestselling books are children’s literature, and the novels come in the second place, especially those targeting young adults aged between 17 and 25 years old.”

Samia H., a 57-year-old nurse, came to the fair from Nazareth in northern Israel. She has bought a number of books, which filled her bags, and was still looking for more.

She told Xinhua that reading brings her pleasure, and she was happy to see many visitors of the fair were young readers who could be the future leaders.

The Palestine International Book Fair is a biennial event hosted by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Culture through a specialized committee that overlooks the entire event.

This year’s 10-day event kicked off on May 3, while the Palestine Film Festival and the Palestine Cultural Forum Awards are held as well.

By Fatima Aruri

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