In this issue of the Books Supplement, Al-Ahram Weekly announces the first instalment in a series of biographical and bibliographical information files dedicated to contemporary Arab authors. Compiled by Weekly staff, the series will provide the non Arabic-speaking reader with essential information on some of the Arab world's principal literary figures of the last century, bringing the picture up to date with profiles of new voices emerging on the Arab literary scene and reviews of their work.
Evidencing a range of influences from Latin American magic realism to Arab folk heritage, the work of such young writers answers not only to the need for a fresh approach to the abiding themes of literature but also to the literary milieu's compulsion to reach out to an ever wider readership, demonstrating the power of writing as an enduring entertainment medium.
The series will hopefully also reach audiences beyond those of the Weekly's regular readership. As noted in these pages on 22 January, the Arab world is to be given pride of place at this year's Frankfurt International Book Fair, to be held in the German city in October, and it is our intention that these files, provided to the Frankfurt event's organisers, will introduce Arab authors to readers and publishers worldwide.
For reasons that are sometimes as much political and economic as literary and cultural, international interest in Arab writing and culture is growing, and this is the first time that the Frankfurt International Fair, the world's largest of its kind, has chosen to focus on a region as large and as complex as the Arab world.
It is to be hoped, in this context, that this year's Frankfurt Fair, to which leading players from the Arab world are contributing, as is ALECSO, the Arab League Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, will be a major showcase for Arab culture as well as a venue for cross-cultural dialogue and enhanced cultural exchange.
It is in this spirit that the Weekly publishes the first of the information files in question this month. Dedicated to the memory of the late Abdel Rahman Munif, who died in January, the material we present on this author in this issue aims to make information available on one of the Arab world's greatest novelists and intellectuals of the past 50 years to an international audience.
Further biographical and bibliographical files will follow in future issues.