Beirut39 Programme

Initial launch of Beirut39

19 March 2009

The Beirut39 project was initially launched at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (17–22 March 2009), attended by judge Abdo Wazen as well as director of the project Cristina Fuentes la Roche and Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival.

Beirut launch of Beirut39

1 May 2009

The Beirut39 project was fully launched in Beirut, and nominations for the project, of writers of Arab origin aged 39 and under, were solicited.

Announcement of Beirut39 list

16 October 2009

The announcement of the writers selected for Beirut39 was announced in a dedicated event taking place at Frankfurt Book Fair on 16 October 2009.

Promoting the writers

October 2009–March 2010

The 39 selected participants in Beirut39 were promoted in the media (including interviews, articles and extracts from their work) and through exhibitions.

Beirut39 Festival

15–18 April 2010

The 39 writers selected to participate in Beirut39 were invited to Beirut for four days, and around 50 events were organized all over the city, in libraries, bookshops, cafés, universities and schools etc. The events were structured around literary topics and took the form of panel debates between three to five writers with a chairperson. All events were followed by a Q&A session with the audience. The events were free and entry was open to the general public; the Festival hoped to attract a diverse audience, reflecting the power of writing to stimulate social cohesion and cultural understanding.

International events


Beirut39 continued to figure in a number of international events after the main event in Beirut in April 2010. Beirut39 events took place at Luminato, the Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity in Canada (June 2010 with Joumana Haddad, Hyam Yared, Randa Jarrar, Yassin Adnan and Mohamed Alwan); at Bozar, Brussels Centre for Fine Arts in Belgium (November 2010 with Hyam Yared, Nagat Ali, Yassin Adnan, Ala Hlehel and Abdelkader Benali); at Manchester Literature Festival in the UK (October 2010 with Yassin Adnan, Abdelkader Benali and Ala Hlehel); at the Chapter & Verse Literature Festival in Liverpool, UK (October 2010 with Abdelkader Benali and Ala Hlehel); at the AM Qattan Foundation in London (June 2010 with Youssef Rakha, Randa Jarrar and Abdellah Taïa); at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (August 2010 with Hala Kawtharani, Najwan Darwish and Hamdy El-Gazzar); at the Arabic Arts Festival in Liverpool (June 2010 with Hyam Yared); and at MOMO Literary Salon in London (July 2010 with Hyam Yared).

Activity continued in July 2011 with a programme of free Poetry from the Arab Spring events hosted at Shubbak: A Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture at City Hall in London. Subjects discussed included The Maghreb: History and Pan-Arabism; Egypt: Poetry From The Public Square; Palestine/Lebanon/Syria: Poetry and Political Protest; and The Gulf: Oral Traditions in Poetry.

Programme Beirut39

Find out more about authors in the Arabic-speaking world on The English PEN World Atlas.

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