Beirut39 celebrates Arab literature with Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury is to be publishing partner in The Hay Festival’s celebration of contemporary Arabic literature – Beirut39

Beirut39 is a Hay Festival project which aims to select and celebrate 39 of the most interesting Arab writers under the age of 40 as a centrepiece of the Beirut World Capital festivities 2009/10. Beirut39 follows on from the extremely successful Bogotá39, which the Hay Festival launched in Bogotá in 2007 and which identified many of the most interesting upcoming Latin American talents, including Junot Díaz, Wendy Guerra, Santiago Roncagliolo and Juan Gabriel Vásquez.

An independent panel of judges is assessing the more than 400 submissions, most of which are in Arabic, but a number of which are in other languages, including Dutch, English, French and Spanish. The list of the 39 selected writers will be announced in early October. The judges are Abdo Wazen, Lebanese poet and cultural editor of the international daily Al-Hayat newspaper; Alawiya Sobh, Lebanese writer; and Saif Al Rahbi, Omani poet and editor-in-chief of the Omani cultural magazine Nizwa.

Coinciding with the Beirut39 festival running in Beirut from 15 to 18 April 2010, Bloomsbury will publish Beirut39, an anthology of short stories/poems/pieces of fiction by the 39 selected authors. The book will be published in English throughout the world by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury USA and Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing and in Arabic throughout the world by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing. Bloomsbury is also selling the translation rights.

Beirut39 will have an introduction by the highly regarded Lebanese author Amin Maalouf, winner of the 1993 Goncourt Prize for The Rock of Tanios, and author of many other novels including Leo the African and Balthasar’s Odyssey and of the memoir Origins. Samuel Shimon, writer and editor of Banipal, the respected magazine of new Arab writing in English translation, is the anthology’s editor.

Bill Swainson, senior commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury London, who acquired World Rights in the book with Anton Mueller at Bloomsbury USA and Kathy Rooney for Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, said: ‘This is one of the most exciting projects Bloomsbury has undertaken and entirely in keeping with its commitment to the best writing from all over the world.’

Kathy Rooney, Qatar Foundation Publishing, said: ‘Beirut39 is the perfect book to signal the aims and ambition of the Bloomsbury Qatar Publishing Foundation, which are to develop outstanding writing talent in the Arab world and bring it to an international audience.’

Cristina Fuentes, Hay Festival’s International Projects Director said: ‘This is already a great adventure in Arabic literature, and we’re delighted to be developing the reach of Beirut39 with Bloomsbury. It’s already apparent that we’ll be celebrating a golden generation of writers from across a vast reach of Arab cultures.’


The Hay Festival has been promoting great writing and music for 22 years, and attracts over 100,000 visitors annually. It has festivals and projects in the UK, Spain, Colombia and Kenya, and sister festivals in Italy and Brazil. Beirut39 is a new adventure in the Arab world.

For more information about the Hay Festival in Beirut please contact:
Raquel Vicedo, Hay Festival, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER                       Tel: 020 7831 3414

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc was founded in 1986 and publishes a wide and varied list of fiction and non-fiction, including books by Adhaf Soueif, Mourid Barghouti, Hanan al-Shaykh, Leila Aboulelah, Edward Said, John Irving, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and J K Rowling.

For more information about the book in English please contact:
Colin Midson, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 36 Soho Square, London, W1D 3QY              Tel: 020 7494 6054

Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing is a venture of Qatar Foundation and Bloomsbury which was founded in 2008 and will publish one hundred books each year in English and Arabic from its base at Qatar Foundation in Doha.

For more information about the book in Arabic and Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing please contact:
Safaa Mraish, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 36 Soho Square, London, W1D 3QY              Tel: 020 7494 6349

The Drill Hall, 25 Lion Street, Hay on Wye, HR3 5AD
T: +44(07722065095, F: +44 1497 821 066

Published Date - 08/09/2009