New programs, the largest international contingent of editorial and agent fellows ever and the magic of Jerusalem are part of the mix creating buzz for the 23rd Jerusalem International Book Fair, February 18—22.
Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski will receive the 2007 Jerusalem Prize at the opening ceremony on February 18. The $10,000 prize is awarded every two years to a writer whose work best expresses the freedom of the individual in society. Kolakowski is known for his critical analysis of Marxist thought, especially his acclaimed three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism. The Library of Congress named Kolakowski the first winner of the John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities in 2003, and he has also received a MacArthur Fellowship (1983), a Jefferson Award (1984) and the Prix Tocqueville (1994).
The Jerusalem Prize, established by the fair in 1963, is considered to be one of the most prestigious international prizes for literature. Past recipients include Bertrand Russell (1963), Simone de Beauvoir (1975), Milan Kundera (1985), Mario Vargas Llosa (1995), Susan Sontag (2001) and Arthur Miller (2003).
Forty-nine editorial and agent fellows, including 18 from the U.S., will be at the fair. International publishing personalities as well as alumni fellows are expected in larger numbers than in previous years. JIBF has organized programs for the fellows that include tours, meetings with Israeli journalists and dinners at homes of Israeli publishers and agents. For this year's alumni lecture series, Larry Kirshbaum, LJK Literary Management, is the keynote speaker. There are also two buzz panels.
At the 2005 fair, a first-time event, "Voices from Two Sides of the Bridge," organized by Israeli agent Deborah Harris, brought together Israeli and Arab authors to discuss the role of writers in society. Its success inspired this year's "Voices from the Hilltop of Tantur: A Meeting of Middle Eastern Writers and Filmmakers." The Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies at Tantur was chosen as a neutral site for the program—artists who wish to participate may enter via Bethlehem without having to have their passports stamped by Israeli authorities.
The day will be divided into two parts: the morning session will be dedicated to films based on literary works and afternoon sessions will look at the face of "The Other" in literature. Panel discussions, readings from recently published works and partial screening of films written and produced by the authors and filmmakers in attendance are also part of the day.