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Open letter condemning Frankfurt Book Fair and supporting Palestinian voices

Over the weekend SRL Publishing have joined more than 600 authors and publishers in signing an open letter condemning the decision of literary association, Litprom, to cancel a celebration for an award-winning Palestinian author at this years Frankfurt Book Fair in the aftermath of the October 7th attack by Hamas on Israel. It asks Frankfurt, the world’s largest book fair, to reinstate events surrounding Adania Shilbi.

In the wake of the announcement by Frankfurt Book Fair, several organisations including the Sharjah Book Authority, the Emirates Publishers Association, and RAYA Agency have since withdrawn from participating in the fair.

Shilbi’s ‘Minor Detail’, originally published in 2017 and won an International Booker Prize, references well-documented events related to the rape of a Bedouin girl in 1949 by an Israeli army unit. The Frankfurt Book Fair has closed off space for Adania Shilbi who was due to be presented with an award and take part in a panel alongside her German-language translator, Günther Orth. Frankfurt organisers have issued a statement that they “stand with complete solidarity on the side of Israel.”

Litprom, the organisation that distributes the book award, is partly funded by the German government and the Frankfurt Book Fair and have explained its decision not to present Shilbi with the award in an online statement.

The letter asks for the organisation and the book fair to reconsider their decision. “The Frankfurt Book Fair has a responsibility, as a major international book fair, to be creating spaces for Palestinian writers to share their thoughts, feelings, reflections on literature through these terrible, cruel times, not shutting them down.”

The decision by the book fair to give Israel a bigger platform while denying Palestinian authors the same opportunity is completely one sided forgetting the suffering of the Palestinian people.

SRL Publishing stands in solidarity with all people affected by this conflict, condemns the decision to cancel the events, the initial and wrong statement that the author supported this, and Frankfurt’s biased, one-sided statement.

A full list of signatories can be found online at ArabLit.