A Dispatch From the Bookfair

The Casablanca International Book Fair is an annual event that brings together some 550,000 book lovers and literature enthusiasts from all across Morocco and all over the world.

During the ten days of the book fair, The Olive Writers hosted a series of talks, book signings and public lectures. Mohammed El Wahabi, the program director, was on duty at the shared ALC/Dar America stand, networking with writers, local and international cultural actors, publishing houses and—most importantly—young Moroccan writers who were eager to learn about opportunities to participate in The Olive Writers' programming.

The Olive Writers sponsored two public events, which took place on Friday, February 15 and Saturday, February 17 from 4-6 p.m.

The first event introduced The Olive Writers to the audience and explained the admission process for our flagship program, the Summer Camp. Soukaina HabibAllah, an acclaimed poet and 2017 Summer Camp guest speaker, joined us to discuss her experience at the camp. HabibAllah emphasized the importance of such nurturing experiences for young writers in Morocco. Achraf Jazz, a professor of English who delivered a critical thinking seminar at the 2017 Summer Camp, also contributed to the event. Jazz spoke about the power of storytelling and shared his insights on the impact of reading, learning critical thinking skills and belonging to a supportive creative community, all of which he argued are essential to the personal development of young people in Morocco and beyond. Jazz also described how his film career—including, notably, an experience working with Steven Spielberg—shaped his understanding of storytelling. Paraphrasing Spielberg, he advised audience members to begin their stories at the end and to figure out the beginning during the writing process. The informational session was followed by a book signing by Summer Camp '17 alumnus Soufiane Elbarrak, whose book [Behind the Wall of Memory] came out last year.

Our Sunday event consisted of another informational session about The Olive Writers' programming, followed by a seminar on literary translation with our program officer and resident literary translator Hodna Nuernberg and renowned Moroccan poet
Hafsa Bekri-Lamrani. The seminar ended with a short but moving reading by Bekri-Lamrani.

The book fair also provided an invaluable chance for our alumni to meet with each other and with staff members from The Olive Writers, as well as to share news and reminisce about the transformative experience of the 2017 Summer Camp.

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