Imagine the world

imagine the world

Who are the new storytellers?


Beirut39 inspires a fresh look at modern Arab literature. A collaboration between the Hay Festival and Beirut World Capital of the Book 2009, the project brought together 39 of the best known and loved writers of Arab heritage under 39 years of age. In Beirut the East, the West and the Mediterranean combine to produce a unique cultural mix. Beirut39 is a great opportunity to discover new voices in Arab literature.

The 39 writers under 39 years were chosen by a group of respected Arab writers, academics and journalists. Nominations were solicited from publishers and literary critics across the Arab world and internationally. The public were also invited to nominate. The judging panel was aided by research and specialist knowledge from Hay Festival and Banipal, the magazine of modern literature.

The selected authors were required to have at least one piece of work published (fiction or poetry); to be born in 1970 or after; and to be of Arab heritage. Writers’ work could be in any language but the subject had to be affiliated with the Arab world. Books and information about the authors in the Nomination List were submitted to the jury for deliberation.

  • hay festival beirut39

Since its creation in 1988, Hay Festival has expanded globally, becoming a household name in much of the Hispanic world through festivals in Segovia and Alhambra (Spain), and Cartagena de Indias and Bogotá (Colombia). Now, Hay Festival has travelled east: to Beirut.

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    Dave Eggers chooses Beirut39 as his favourite book of 2010

    “This collection was a really necessary undertaking...We need their voices more than ever before.“ – Dave Eggers

    Read the article...

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    Beirut39 event at Manchester Literature Festival

    “Six months later, a Beirut39 event at Manchester Literature Festival proves the project didn't just end with the book” The National, 1 November 2010

    Read the article...

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    Beirut39 anthology

    Beirut39 aimed to bring the most exciting new authors from the Arab world to the global stage at a time of growing interest. Published by Bloomsbury, the anthology was published in April 2010 and was launched at the Hay Festival in Beirut (15–18 April) and at the 'Free The Word' English Pen Festival in London.

    Buy the book in English or Arabic...

  • Beirut39 in The New Republic

    Writing Osama bin Laden: Why have American novelists failed to tell convincing stories about terrorists?

    Read Ruth Franklin’s column in The New Republic, 5 April 2011


Writers' residencies

  • The Alliance of Artists' Communities joined Beirut39 in supporting a new generation of Arab writers by offering residencies to Beirut39 writers in artists' communities throughout the world. Alliance member programmes support living artists in the creation of new work, in the belief that the cultivation of new art and ideas is essential to human progress. Residencies took place until the end of 2012.
  • More about the Alliance of Artists Communities...