Public events

The LEILA project promotes Arabic literature in Europe via a number of activities. LEILA has organised, partnered, and participated in public events targeting a wider audience including the Brussels-based Bozar and Mahmoud Darwish Chair’s “Literature Talks” or the Paris-based Adab literature festival, run by iReMMO.

Adab Festival, Paris, 2023

On December 8, 9, and 10, 2023, iReMMO curated and coordinated a literature festival in Paris open to the public at Maison de la Poésie, that focuses on contemporary literature from the Mediterranean and the greater Middle East.

Gathering authors, publishers and multidisciplinary artists from around Europe and the Arab world, the festival pays tribute to the ways literature can move and reach us.

The venue and main partner, Maison de la Poésie is an internationally recognised reference for literature and the arts, and is perfectly positioned to promote Arabic literature to a wider audience. The event also included a young public programmation as well as the participation of a dozen of Arab publishers invited by the BIEF to attend the festival.

Full program here

Literature Talks, Brussels, 2021-2023

Over the course of 2021, 2022 and 2023, BOZAR and the Mahmoud Darwish Chair in Brussels curated literature talks open to the public, bringing together authors from the Arab world to present their art and works. All events were filled to maximum capacity proving that Arabic literature interests a great diversity of people.

Meet the writer : Iman Mersal & Adania Shibli, 7 December, 2023

Language exists not only in words, but also in silence and time. This is all the more palpable in the case of writers who do not live in their home country, but live in a language other than the language of their books. Iman Mersal, from Egypt, lives in Canada, Adania Shibli, from Palestine, lives in Germany; both write in Arabic. What does this mean for their writing? Mersal and Shibli discuss the relationship between language and being at home, silence and time.

Writers from Black Arabia, 30 November, 2022

With Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin, Stella Gaitano and Hammour Ziada, in a discussion moderated by Xavier Luffin.

At the intersection of two cultures, Sudan and South Sudan are home to a number of important writers who are rarely heard in Europe. Here they addressed themes such as their country of origin, exile, the Arabic language, but above all the universal language of literature.

“You Have Not Yet Been Defeated” Writers from Egypt, 19 October, 2022

With Lina Attalah, Ahdaf Soueif and Iman Mersal, in a discussion moderated by Catherine Vuylsteke

A political and poetic evening about the role of authors under repressive regimes. Writing serves as an act of resistance and a way to remember oppression, but it also creates a foundation for new ideas for a different future. The title given to the event was inspired by independent philosopher and political prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s titular book, published in English in 2022.

Beirut Echoes: 72 hours to Lebanon, 12 – 15 November, 2021

With Ali Chahrour, Chloé Mazlo, Dima Abdallah, Dima Matta, Elias Khoury, Farouk Mardam Bey, Leila Shahid, Katia Al Tawil, Ryoko Sekiguchi, Samira Saleh, Ziad Majed and others. 

With its rich historical and cultural past, the Lebanese capital captures the imagination. But Beirut is also a political chessboard of sectarianism, abuse of power, and corruption. The 2020 explosion in the port area will be forever imprinted on our minds, and in 2021 the city remained in the news with its turbulent demonstrations. It is against this background that the Mahmoud Darwish Chair and Bozar presented the three-day Beirut echoes festival with talks, film and dance performances in solidarity with Lebanon, as a platform where art and literature can be shared in an artistic dialogue between Europe and the Middle East.

Partner events

After two years of cultural and publishing exchanges between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, the Livres des deux rives project reached the end of its first phase in June 2023. A closing event was held on 12 and 13 June in Paris, at the Société des gens de lettres, to bring together all the stakeholders in the project. On the programme: presentation of the deliverables, professional meetings, workshops, discussion sessions and feedback on the actions taken. LEILA was presented at this occasion and was welcomed with great interest by the audience, mostly professionnals from France and the Arab world. More info here.

On 27 January 2023, ATLAS and Institut Français organised a one-day event to review the translation work carried out as part of the Livres des 2 rives programme. Hosted by Institut du monde arabe in Paris, this event was also the occasion to present the LEILA project and a preview of its website, to an attentive and enthusiastic audience of professionals. More info here.

The BIEF and the Institut français de Paris have joined forces to organise a fellowship programme for publishers from the Arab world. This year’s programme was part of the Livre des deux rives project run by the Institut français and supported by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. During this second BIEF fellowship for publishers from the Arab world, 15 literary and humanities publishers from the Maghreb, Egypt and Lebanon met with French publishers and rights managers in Paris and Marseille to discuss possible collaborations. LEILA project was introduced during a round-table at the CNL. More info here.

Organised on the initiative of the President of the French Republic and following on from the 2019 Summit of the Two Shores, the Mediterranean World Forum was held in Marseille on 7 and 8 February 2022. This event provided an important forum for exchange and debate, mobilising civil society and economic players from all over the Mediterranean basin around solutions to common challenges. It brought together nearly 3,000 participants, including more than 300 from the southern and eastern shores. LEILA project was present during the two-day event with a booth and presentation of the project by two team members. More info here.