Marrakech to host first ever English Book Festival in November

Marrakesh is hosting the first-ever edition of the Moroccan English Book Festival in November this year, after a pandemic-induced delay last year.

The event is organized at the initiative of the festival association in collaboration with the British Business Association, the British Moroccan Society, the British Academy School, Cadi Ayyad University, the Calliope bookshop, and many other partners.

Moroccan novelist and short story writer Yassin Adnan is speer-heading the initiative, which he has been working on for nearly two years now, telling HIBAPRESS EN that despite the unfortunate cancellation of the event last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the organizers are adamant to make this edition a success.

Adnan told HIBAPRESS EN in a statement that, despite the growing popularity of the English language in Morocco, English readers and writers alike are lacking targetted English-speaking cultural events.

“There is a real, growing need for events like these, to encourage readers to discover this rich segment of literature, and encourage creatives who have chosen English as their language of expression to produce in the language,” he says.

To the writer, this event is targeted at all actors in the publishing world, both Moroccan and international, to signal that there is potential for English to thrive in Morocco and encourage its development.

The first edition of this literary event will take place from November 25 to 27, and will include many places in the iconic Ochre city, such as Dar Bellarj, Dar Cherifa, the House of storytelling “World Storytelling Cafe” and the Arab House.

This festival is primarily open to Moroccan authors writing in English, English writers living in Morocco, and all Moroccan authors whose books have been translated into English.

This first session will host eminent British writers such as Richard Hamilton, James Von Leyden, Saeida Rouass, Barnaby Rogerson as well as the two translators Lulu Norman and Marcia Lynx Qualey, and the Lebanese author Anissa Helou.

The Moroccan participants, for their part, are essentially authors who have chosen English as their language of writing or whose writings have been rendered in the language of Shakespeare. Examples include Mahi Binebine, Houda Elfchtali, Yassin Adnan and Amina Hachimi Alaoui.

The event comes at a time when a growing number of youth are choosing English over French as their chosen second language. As the language’s popularity grows, the festival is expected to shed light on the richness of English expressions in literature in Morocco, and further entice Moroccan readers to discover all the language has to offer.

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