The 13th International Book Fair of Algiers

Education is something that is imperative for the growth of individuals and a nation as a whole and that is certainly true for Algiers where illiteracy still poses quite a problem for many individuals. With the goal of promoting reading and writing, the 13th edition of the International Book Fair of Algiers (SILA) will be taking place at the Algiers fairgrounds from October 27 to November 5, 2008.

This regularly held literary event has now been further enriched by the introduction of seven newly established literary awards. According to Mohamed Balhi, the head of SILA’s cultural activities department, the co-organizer of the exhibition and the director of ANEP publishing, the awards are designed to encourage an increase in the standards of nationally produced literature. Prizes will be given for both Arabic and French literature in each category. The categories are Best Youth Book (French and Arabic), Best Appearance and Heritage (French and Arabic), and Best Literary Text in Tamazight. The prizes should help to reward authors who are published in Algeria but who often do not receive the recognition they deserve for their efforts.

Some of the elements of the books that would be examined would be the intellectual value of the work as well as the aesthetic value of the book. The standards for the prizes are also very high, as the prize will only be awarded if the books meet all the criteria. If no books meet the necessary criteria, the prize will not be awarded for that year. The books chosen for a particular category also have to be recent, having been submitted within a year of the SILA award opening date. It is hoped that the prizes will not only give the SILA literary event a whole new dimension, but that they will inspire creativity and intellectual effort through rewarding these traits.

The prizes are not limited to Algerians living in Algeria. Any Algerian who publishes a work – whether he is in Algeria or abroad, may be considered for the prizes. This will hopefully have the effect of helping Algeria to recover some of its more elite intellectuals and so further boost the local literary legacy.