Friday, March 02, 2007

Muscat Book Fair 2007: a general overview

So I promised that I would review my impression on the Muscat International Book Fair of 2007, and here it is.

Generally speaking after having to go through the laughter and humiliation that one can sustain themselves just to stay sane in that particular arena is extremely difficult; even after seeing women with curtains over their faces or blindfolds to the point you would be holding on to your company's arms with fear from being stabbed by a dagger by one of them whilst just trying to admire them innocently.

The books - ah, yes - the books.

My biggest expectation of this year's book fair is that would there would have been a fair amount of stalls for some English language books, some pretty damn good ones, too. But I was just dissapointed again by the mere scene of certain local libraries showcasing University study books or even high school standard books.

While the rest of the so-called 'exhibition' varied of books being brought in by the GCC states for the mere 'we also publish our own books, too, you know' club like Saudi Arabia, and the Sultanate of Oman of which the only organizations to do so were of government caterers; the vast majority of the rest of it was a mere tremendous walk from beginning to end.

Most of the exhibition was taken over by the Lebanese stalls that showcased some really interesting titles, especially one which was pecurely strange of a coincidence such as Gardens of Paradise by Ghalia F. T. Al-Saeed, or Dhofar: days of the war, or perhaps even the book The Humble.

And although most of the exhibition was taken up by the Lebanese exhibitioners, I was told that, during the last Israeli assault against Lebanon, Israel had attacked most of the printers and publishers until they were destroyed which resulted in having the Lebanese stalls cutting down on their showcased items for sale or exhibition from 70% to 30%.

Amongst the GCC countries that were showing a good example of sample material that could be bought to know more about the country were Kuwait and Bahrain. If you want to have a small chat or rest you can do that in that Qatar, or Saudi Arabian stalls.

Yemen had showed courage to come out in the exhibition by showing off some titles that were, quite free..?

Iraq's stall - whom as much I was astonished by seeing their face in this year's exhibition - I was amazed by them showing up with just the one stall. Which is a total shame.

Don't even bother going to the American stall, unless you want to say 'Hi' to the 'man in black'.

The British stall were strangely enough for me showing off some great Arabic language titles one of them being about one of the former presidents of Iraq - Abdul Aziz Barzan - a total hitorical view on that person's life.

The Syrian stalls showed a lot of passion this year, which I thought was really nice. Especially it being the land that the late Nizar Qabani. A true tribute to the master of all romantic Arabic language poetry.

You'll find plenty of Arabic bed time stories, a lot of educational material - also in Arabic - for the youngsters, but nothing too challenging; which, in itself, is a disadvantage as much as it is an advantage.

If you're in for the exhibition just as a spectator, you'd have to be warned, it's totally messy; people around you don't care who you are or where your from - they're there for the business of selling books. Which is ironic, because I remember I told my 'company' this early morning that the idea of exhibiting books is as much a business as it is a concept of 'show and tell the public who you really are', and the moderation you find between the two.

Hope I have helped you out.

One last piece of information I almost forgot; I was told that the exhibition is on until the 8th of March. So if you're still debating yourself on whether you should or should not go; make up your mind very soon or else you might regret it until the next coming year.