pictures from 'the hidden face of libyan fiction' seminar at london book fair
Some images from the 'The Hidden Face of Libyan Fiction' seminar, a well-attended highlight of the London Book Fair on 13th April. The panel, chaired by Banipal editor Samuel Shimon, turned out to be all-male as Libyan novelist Wafa Al-Bueissa, who lives in the Netherlands, unfortunately had visa problems which prevented her from travelling to London to participate. The recently-published 40th issue of Banipal presented at the seminar includes a major 135-page special feature on Libyan Fiction with work from 17 writers, including the four on the seminar panel. The seminar attracted a great deal of interest, and was revealing on a literature which has (with the exception of one or two names) had little exposure elsewhere in the Arab world, let alone further afield. There was an emotional charge in the room as the panellists spoke of their current feelings of hope and described the difficulties that have faced writers over the past four decades including imprisonment (Giuma Bukleb was jailed for 10 years from the late 1970s when he and other young writers were rounded up), censorship, raids on bookshops and other attempts at silencing.
Mohammed Mesrati (L) and Samuel Shimon
(L to R) Hisham Matar, Giuma Bukleb, Ghazi Gheblawi
Ghazi Gheblawi Hisham Matar (L) and Giuma Bukleb Ghazi Gheblawi (L) and Mohammed Mesrati
Giuma Bukleb and Mohammed Mesrati in signing mode
socialising at the end of the event
(L to R) Hisham Matar, Ghazi Gheblawi, Mohammed Mesrati, Giuma Bukleb & Samuel Shimon Mohammed Mesrati and his Free Libya badge have the last word