Reports of the death of the book have been greatly exaggerated, and you can see
literature thriving at the 26th Jerusalem International Book Fair, which will
take place from February 10-15 at the International Convention Center in
The fair, which is held every other year, will feature
readings and appearances from a host of writers from all over the world. In all,
more than 600 authors and publishers from 30 countries will attend, and over
100,000 books will be on display – most of them for sale. There will be panels,
seminars and a “literary café” where writers will meet their readers. Best of
all, the entire event is open to the public free of charge, although some events
require advance registration.
The prestigious Jerusalem Prize will be
awarded to acclaimed Spanish author Antonio Muñoz Molina.
The prize is
given to an author whose work best expresses and promotes the idea of the
“freedom of the individual in society.” Past winners have included Ian McEwan
(at the last fair, in 2011), Haruki Murakami, Mario Vargas Llosa, Milan Kundera,
Graham Greene, Eugene Ionesco, Jorge Luis Borges and Bertrand
Molina will accept his prize in a special ceremony.
will also appear at the Literary Café, a setting in which authors speak on a
particular topic but also have more informal meetings with book-fair
Molina will discuss his life, his work and his affinity for
Judaism at the café on Monday, February 11, at 8 p.m. The café features
discussions and meetings with authors from morning till night, Monday –
This year’s guest list for the festival includes American
author Nathan Englander, who has written quite a bit about the ultra-Orthodox
community, in such shortstory collections as For the Relief of Unbearable Urges.
His latest book, a collection of short stories called What We Talk About When We
Talk About Anne Frank has just been translated into Hebrew. The Hebrew edition
will be published by Keter and will be in stores soon.
It’s a very
literary season in Jerusalem. The book fair will follow the Kissufim Conference
for Jewish Authors and Poets, which also features international and Israeli
International authors attending the fair include Roy Jacobsen of
Norway; Italian authors Cristina Comencini, Bruno Arpaia, Marco Ansaldo and
Alessandro Baricco; French authors Philippe Labro, Tobie Nathan, Amelie
Northomb, and Emmanuel Carrere; Judie Oron of Canada; Gyorgy Spiro, Gyorgy
Dragoman, Gabor Schein and Geza Rohrig of Hungary; Varujan Vosganian and Vasile
Ernu of Romania; and many others.
There will be a number of seminars on
topics of literary interest. Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic will take part
in the seminar “Books and Other Adult Pleasures – Literary Criticism Today.” He
will be joined by Gregor Dotzauer of Der Tagesspiegel and Florence Noiville of
Le Monde. Professor Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi of Israeli will moderate the
There will also be a bloggers’ panel on this topic, called
“literary criticism.com,” which will feature several bloggers from around the
world, including Maud Newton and Mark Sarvas of the US, Naomi Alderman of the UK
and Boaz Cohen of Israel.
Another seminar sure to be well-attended is
“Selling Books in a Digital Age,” which will take place on February 12 at 10
a.m. The session will be in memory of Zev Birger, who was the director of the
book fair for 30 years. Among the participants will be Anne Sternweiss of Random
House/Germany and Jane Freidman of Open Roads Media in the US.
“Lost and Found in Translation” seminar, Israeli writers Zeruya Shalev and Etgar
Keret will discuss their experiences with translators and publishers.
festival is truly international, and many of the events, especially those
sponsored by exhibitors, are not in English or Hebrew – but Russian- and
Hungarian- speakers ought to be pleased at this year’s offerings.
there are many events in English and Hebrew, of course.
On Monday night
at 7 p.m., there will be a reading from Love in Israel, an anthology of 65
stories in English by Israeli writers, published by Ang-Lit. Press. It will be
followed by a discussion on writing English fiction in Israel.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of England will appear on a panel on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
on the topic, “The Leader, the Rabbi & the Professor: Varieties of Jewish
Among the English/Hebrew events is a discussion on “Books
about the Israeli Secret Service,” which should be of interest to anyone who has
seen the documentary The Gatekeepers, which is nominated for an Oscar (on
Tuesday at 7 p.m.).
There has been an Editorial Fellowship Program at the
fair in which editors from all over the world attend the festival, and now a
parallel program has been added for agents. The participants meet authors,
publishers and editors at the book fair. The Editorial Fellowship Program was
founded in 1985.
For more information and to reserve places for events,
visit the book fair website at www.jerusalembookfair.com