Jerusalem International Book Festival 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel’s most prestigious book festival kicks off on Sunday with a ceremony
honoring prolific English author Ian McEwan with the Jerusalem Prize.
25th Jerusalem International Book Festival runs from February 20-25, and will
feature over 600 authors, editors and literary agents from 30 countries around
the world. The event, which is held biennially, will be held in the
International Convention Center (Binyenei Ha’uma) at the entrance to
Ian McEwan is the author of Atonement, The Innocent,
Amsterdam, The Comfort of Strangers and Saturday
, among others.
newest book, Solar
, is a satirical novel based on climate change.
Jerusalem Prize is one of the highest awards for foreign authors in Israel, and
has previously been awarded to Bertrand Russell, Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur
Miller, Susan Sontag and last year to Japanese minimalist writer Haruki
The group British Writers in Support of Palestine denounced
McEwan for accepting the “corrupt and cynical honor” and reminded McEwan that he
could “reject the Jerusalem Prize right up to the moment that your hands are
dirtied by receiving it.”
McEwan announced at the end of January that he
was planning on accepting the award at a ceremony in Jerusalem.
“It is a
highly distinguished award and I am honored to join the backlist of writers who
are previous winners,” he told the British media.
In response to a letter
from BWISP in The Guardian
at the end of January, McEwan wrote in his own
letter, “I have my own concerns about Israel and the situation of the
Palestinians, which is worse than ever,” calling the recent PaliLeaks documents
However, he drew the distinction between civil society and
“I’m for finding out for myself, and for dialogue,
engagement, and looking for ways in which literature, especially fiction, with
its impulse to enter other minds, can reach across political divides,” he wrote
in the letter. “There are ways in which art can have a longer reach than
Haruki Murakami was also discouraged from accepting the
Jerusalem Prize in 2009.
“Like most novelists,” he said in his acceptance
speech, “I like to do exactly the opposite of what I am told. It’s in my nature
as a novelist.”
Other highlights at the book fair include a conversation
between Italian author Umberto Eco and A.B. Yehoshua, Marina Nemat
discussing her book The Prisoner of Tehran with film director Anat Zuria
(Tehora, Mekudeshet) and a panel about correspondence across cultural divides
called “Sisters, not enemies: Telling the story of Jews and Arabs in Israel in
another voice,” as well as dozens of book-signings and book launches in French,
Russian, Hebrew and English.
Visitors can also attend educational panels
on topics ranging from translating classic Jewish stories into Russian, the
impact of digital media on the publishing world, or learn about subjects as
specific as poetry in ancient India or the effect of narcotics on Romanian
There will be a children’s hour daily from 4 to 6
p.m. with authors, including Smadar Shir, reading their stories to
children in Hebrew.
Entrance to almost all events is free. More
information is available on the JIBF website at