The English Pen Online World Atlas was launched at the London Book Fair's Arab World Market Focus in April with an event featuring the Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany. The site kicked off with a focus on writing from the Arab region; it now has 91 registered users from around the world, with links to their e-mail addresses and websites. Once signed in, users can post or edit material under countries, books or authors. In the entry for Palestine for example one finds a main entry on Palestinian literature, with links to articles on 19 Palestinian authors. So far there are 156 articles on books, 206 on authors. Users are also able to send messages directly to fellow users via the site. I have to say that quite a few of the users have not logged into the site for several months, but the site clearly has the makings of a valuable online community and resource base on Arab literature. But maybe the administrators need to rethink the site a bit in order to draw existing and potential users in more regularly.
The project's English Pen World Atlas Blog is gathering momentum as a useful source of news, views and links relating to Arab literature.