A dozen Brazilian-Arab authors will have their works translated into a series of books by the Abu Dhabi-based publishing house Kalima.
Announced as part of the Frankfurt Book Fair today, a series of twelve books will be published from writers hailing from the the largest Arab diaspora community in the world, which is home to up to 16 million people. Books will range from short stories and poetry collections to novels.
The authors included in the collection include renowned Brazilian literary figures Milton Hatoum, Salim Miguel and Michel Sleiman, all of whom were born in Brazil and with their roots tracing back to Lebanon.
The first of the 12 books, which has yet to be announced, is presently in translation with a launch planned in both Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo to occur next year.
The initiative is part of an agreement between Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT) with Pessoa, the largest online Portuguese-language magazine, which will take care of the translation of the Brazilian works from the Portugese language to Arabic.
In addition to building cultural inroads into the biggest book market in Latin America, DCT’s director of publishing Saeed Al Tunaiji states the collection is also in response to a growing international interest in authors living abroad as part of an established diaspora.
"There is definitely a fascination with this genre and when it comes to the Arab world, there is an interest and curiosity about how the Arabic diasporas live abroad," he told The National in Frankfurt.
“There is an interest in the way they see the world, their communities and how they live abroad while maintaining their culture. A lot of people can identify with that.”
Al Tunaiji states the initiative comes as part of the strengthening of ties between the UAE and South America that also spans the diplomatic and economic sphere.
Indeed, the series of publications is also supported by the UAE Consulate in Brazil as well the Brazilian Arab Chamber of Commerce.
Meanwhile, also running as part of the Frankfurt Book Fair today is a “match making” session between UAE and Brazilian publishing houses. Organised by the Sharjah based Emirates Publishers Association, which also has a stand at the book fair, the aim of the session is the buying and selling of translation rights of Arabic and Brazilian works. This program was first hatched back in August when the Sharjah International Book Fair was the guest of honor of the Sao Paulo Book Fair.
It all goes to underscore, Al Tunaiji says, the power of cultural exchange in building international ties with other countries.
“And there is more to come,” he says.
“Although it took us a year to get this book series initiative organised and to start rolling, this is only a first step as we plan to do bigger things in Latin America with other important countries in that region.”