Jerusalem marks one of the capital's largest and most important cultural events next week - the biannual International Book Fair, Sunday through Friday (February 23). Entrance is free this year, and a number of tantalizing special events are scheduled. A Literary Caf will be in operation from Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., when such heavyweight Israeli authors as Aharon Appelfeld, Amos Oz and Tzruya Shalev will get together with writers from abroad. The caf won't be all talk though: Israeli singer Achinoam Nini will be performing her new show of Neaopolitan songs, accompanied by Italian author Erri De Luca (God's Mountain) on Tuesday evening at 6:45 p.m., while later that night (9 p.m.), Yung Yiddish's driving force Mendy Kahan presents Yiddish Now, a bouquet of Yiddish literary and folk music pieces. On Thursday (8 p.m.) at the caf , European-bred novelist Appelfeld meets Italian author and media personality Alain Elkann to talk about "Images of the Jewish intellectual in Europe." A lecture highlight will be Wednesday at 6 p.m., when distinguished British historian Martin Gilbert discusses "What can Jews learn from history," in which he reflects on his 40 years of research. The literary theme of this year's International Book Fair is "The freedom of the individual in society." At Sunday's opening ceremony (6 p.m.), the prestigious Jerusalem Prize will be awarded to Polish writer and philosopher Leszek Kolakowski (Conversations with the Devil), with Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski in attendance. The fair marked its first appearance in 1963, and has been heralded as one of the leading international events of its kind, drawing tens of thousands of visitors from across the globe. This year's fair will host more than 1,200 publishers and authors from over 40 countries, displaying and selling more than 100,000 books in various languages. Eight hundred recently published books will be showcased. Topics of the exhibited books will include Israel, Judaism, history, psychology, nature, biographies, poetry and art, among others. This year the fair also features a three-day conference on reading and "the culture of the book" for professionals in education and other fields (registration at www.reading-adventures.co.il); a literary/cinematic gathering between Israeli, Arab and Palestinian writers, screenwriters and directors entitled "Voices from Tantur;" a symposium on the development of Jewish historical writing; an Italian pavilion; and a prominent French presence, with over 1,500 titles published by more than 100 French publishers. Check out the whole program at www.jerusalembookfair.org Binyanei Ha'uma (Jerusalem International Convention Center), Sunday, 6-9 p.m., Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m, Friday (February 23), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.