26th Jerusalem Book Fair and the Zev Birger Editorial + Agent Fellowship

From February 10th – 15th , Marina Penalva from the <ahref=”http: www.pontas.cat”=””>Pontas team attended the 26th Jerusalem International Book Fair as part of the Zev Birger Editorial & Agent Fellowship 2013. The Fellowship is an excellent networking opportunity for editors and agents from all around the world, as it includes seminars, cultural visits, participation in the main events of the fair and an intense program of professional activities. Some of the 42 participants this year included the editors Nelleke Geel (Signatuur), Peter van der Zwaag (De Bezige Bij), Harminke Medendorp (Podium), Sarah MacLachlan (House of Anansi Press), Alexis Washam (Hogarth Press), Katharina Bielenberg (MacLehose Press), Dagfinn Moller (Cappelen Damm), Elin Sennerö (Albert Bonniers), Myriam Anderson (Actes Sud), Karsten Kredel (Suhrkamp), Eduardo Rabasa (Sexto Piso), among many others, as well as fellow agents and scouts. Past alumni from former Fellowships were also there, such as Job Lisman (Prometheus), Chris Herschdorfer (Ambo Anthos), Eva Cossée (Cossee) or Jean Mattern (Gallimard), among others. Here below, a photo of the group at Jaffa Gate © Drummond Moir; and tomatoes of all kinds and colours at the Jerusalem market.

The group at Jaffa Gate (c) Drummond Moir Tomatoes in all kinds of colors at the Jerusalem market

During a packed and eye-opening week, Marina had the chance to visit the offices of the prestigious publishers Am Oved (Bolaño, Muñoz Molina, Auster, Chabon, etc) and meet with other Israeli editors such as Keter (publishers of Jonas Jonasson), Schocken or Kinneret Zmora Bitan. The visit also allowed some time for a tour around Bethlehem, in Palestine, and for a highly interesting reading from Palestinian author, lawyer and human rights activist Raja Shehadeh, who presented his book Occupation Diariesat the Swedish Christian Study Centre in an event hosted by his UK publisher Andrew Franklin. Other interesting discussions included a keynote speech from Dame Gail Rebuk, CEO of Random House UK, who talked about the importance of discoverability and the role of editors as opinion makers in the digital world, and a panel on selling books in the digital age which included, among other speakers, Jane Friedman, presenting Open Road Media and the influence of analytics in the future, and Anne Sternweis, from Random House Bertelsmann, who talked about the German group’s digital strategy. Films were also present at the fair, in a seminar on the recent adaptation boom in the US of Israeli TV series such as Homeland.

In the photos: Sophie Voller (Gyldendal), Friederike Schilbach (Fischer), Elin Sennerö (Bonniers), Hannah Westland (Serpent´s Tail) and Marina; Britt Somann (Fischer), Moshe Ron (Am Oved) and Nelleke Geel (Signatuur); Myriam Anderson (Actes Sud), David Ungar (FIL) and Stephanie Barrouillet (Kinneret) © Irina Volkova; Munther M. Fahmi (owner of the bookshop at the American Colony Hotel) and Raja Shehadeh.

Sophie_Voller Britt Somann,Moshe Ron and Nelleke Geel Myriam Anderson Munther

All in all, the visit provided valuable insight to Israel and its publishing scene. The buzz surrounding the fair, the number of foreign participants in the Fellowship and the presence of past alumni make it a privileged meeting-point for agents and editors wishing to exchange information and tips between the two major fairs of Frankfurt and London.

“Literature is people who write and people who read, but it is also parents and teachers who pass on to children the skills to learn and write and the love for the spoken and the written word, public schools for those who cannot afford a private education, public libraries open to all. Literature cannot develop the full potentials of its promise without a public atmosphere of free speech and respect for differences of religion and opinion, without a measure of social justice and peace.” From Antonio Muñoz Molina’s acceptance speech for The Jerusalem Prize

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