Literary Culture at the International Book Fair of Algiers

On Wednesday 19 September 2012, the President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, opened the 17th edition of the International Book Fair of Algiers being held in the city at the Exhibition Center Pins Maritimes until 29 September. Accompanied by Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, and several other members of the Algerian Government, the President visited different stands exhibiting at the popular annual cultural event in which up to 630 publishing houses from 41 countries are participating. Under the title “My Book, My Liberty”, this year’s International Book Fair of Algiers coincides with the 50th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

Special tribute will be paid to respected Algerian literary figures Mouloud Feraoun and Ahmed Reda Houhou at the fair. Born in Tizi Hibel, Kabylia, on March 8, 1913, Mouloud Feraoun was an Algerian writer and a martyr of the Algerian revolution. His works, which were written in French, have been translated into a number of languages and include Le Fils du Pauvre (The Poor Man’s Son) published in 1950; Jours de Kabylie (Days of Kabylie) published in 1954; and Les Chemins qui Montent (The Paths that Rise) published in 1957. Mouloud Faraoun was assassinated by the French Secret Armed Organization on March 15, 1962.

Born in Sidi Uqba near Biskra in 1911, Ahmed Reda Houhou was the first Algerian writer to have a novel published in Arabic, which took place in 1947. Although he was educated in Saudi Arabia and spent time in Mecca, where he wrote a number of articles, among which was a paper asking the question of whether Arabic literature was heading for extinction. He returned to Algeria in 1945 and wrote several articles for Algerian newspapers where he addressed issues relating to politics, society, religion and the status of women. He was assassinated in April 1956.

Of the 630 publishers participating, 250 are from Algeria, and Japan, China and Denmark will be participating for the first time. The program will include items specifically for children, as well as conferences, workshops and the screening of 18 films adapted from great literary works. Poetry evenings are another feature of the International Book Fair of Algiers. The 2011 International Book Fair of Algiers received more than 1.2 million visitors, and organizers are confident that the 2012 event will be even more of a success.