Book news: Bookshop plans from and Amazon?

Plus: Arabic writers make it to the BTBA longlist and US pen award judges honour noted Syrian poet adonis.

Logo of online retailer Ehab Farouk / Reuters
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Bookshop plans from and amazon?

As reported in The National last week, Amazon has acquired Dubai regional online retailer What might that mean for bookselling in the UAE? announced in February plans for a UAE-focused online bookstore, and Russ Grandinetti, Amazon's vice president in charge of the international consumer market, says: "Amazon and share the same DNA – we're both driven by customers, invention and long-term thinking." With Grandinetti's experience in the Kindle side of the business, it would be a surprise if there are not plans for an increased focus on selling books online.

Arabic writers make it to the BTBA longlist

Two books translated from Arabic are on the huge longlist for the Best Translated Book Awards in the United States, which was announced last week. Basma Abdel Aziz is in with a real chance of winning for her excellent surrealist novel The Queue, while jailed Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh's Instructions Within should also at least make it to the shortlist, which will be unveiled on April 18. There is a lovely piece on Aziz's book on the prize website at

US pen award judges honour noted Syrian poet adonis

The PEN America Literary Awards were also conferred last week. Acclaimed Syrian poet and essayist Adonis added to his long list of awards the US$50,000 (Dh183,615) PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, in recognition for his exceptional body of work. Libyan writer Hisham Matar took home the inaugural PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for his incredible memoir, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Lands in Between.

* Ben East