Monday, November 19, 2012

collection of 70 Arabic-English titles launched at RBKC libraries

Selma Dabbbagh opens the launch event 
picture credit: Mike Massaro / Double Negative

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) in London hosts a substantial Arab presence and Arabic is the borough's second most spoken language after English. Now libraries across the borough are stocking 70 new Arabic-English titles, thanks to a partnership between RBKC Council, Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (BQFP) and Nour Festival of Arts from the Middle East and North Africa which has been running in venues in the borough through October and November.

The new collection of books includes fiction, non-fiction, biography, arts and children's books. It  was launched at an event held at North Kensington Library on Ladbroke Grove last Thursday, opened by Palestinian-British writer Selma Dabbagh, Nour Festival's Writer in Residence. Dabbagh's debut novel Out of It, set in Gaza, the West Bank, London and the Gulf, was published late last year by BQFP, and has been translated by Samer Abouhawwach for publication by BQFP under the title Kharij Ghazze.

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, Cabinet Member for Libraries, said: ‘We pride ourselves on having excellent libraries at the heart of our community and always want to make sure that our book stock is relevant and up-to-date. I'm very pleased that a new range of Arabic-English titles is now available.’

books from the collection on display 
picture credit: Mike Massaro / Double Negative

The Nour Festival appointed Sophia Blackwell, marketing manager at Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, and the publishing consultant Nahla El Geyoushi, to source new, up-to-date stock. Nahla El Geyoushi's involvement was particularly important for Kensington and Chelsea as she is the Heritage and Culture Project Consultant at Al-Manaar, The Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in North Kensington, and has expert knowledge of what local people are looking to read. Sophia and Nahla worked in partnership with Alan Kirwan, curator, Nour Festival of Arts, and Andrew Norton of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Libraries. At the launch, Nahla El Geyoushi took guests through the new selection.

Julia Donaldson's children's book The Gruffalo is among the books in the collection 
picture credit: Mike Massaro /Double Negative

It was after receiving feedback from local residents at last year’s Nour Festival that local librarians decided they wanted to provide more high-quality children’s literature in Arabic or dual language Arabic-English editions at their local library. Kensington and Chelsea Libraries will arrange a number of events and activities to help promote the collection. Library members can also use their library card in neighbouring Westminster’s libraries, where Paddington Library has a large collection of Arabic books.

North Kensington Library in Ladbroke Grove
picture credit: Mike Massaro / Double Negative

The books featured in the photographs in this report include:

The Kite Runner (Arabic edition) by Khaled Hosseini
Out of It (English edition) by Selma Dabbagh, Nour Writer-in-Residence
Mowlana (Arabic) by Ezzedine Choukri Fishere
Burnt Shadows (Arabic edition) by Kamila Shamsie
Little Secrets (Arabic) by Rita Khoury
The Gruffalo (Arabic edition) by Julia Donaldson
Hamda and Fisaikra (Arabic, also available in English) by Kaltham al-Ghanem
Victory over Abu Derya (English, also available in Arabic) by Mohammed Ali

No comments: