Jewish-American writers Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss and Nathan Englander will be among the guests at the First International Writers Festival, scheduled to take place in Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Jerusalem May 11-15. On Monday, Foer and Krauss, both best-selling novelists and married to one another, as well as Englander (author of "The Ministry of Special Cases") confirmed their scheduled arrival in Israel.
The festival, which is the first of its type here, will provide a common meeting ground for Israeli writers and prominent international colleagues. The festival will be the site of roundtable discussions and encounters with readers, in a variety of languages, as well as a number of events for children.
Other foreign guests slated to appear: Nobel Prize-winning novelist Nadine Gordimer (South Africa), Americans Russell Banks and Anita Diamant, Portuguese writer Lidia Jorge, Italian Erri De Luca, Anna Enquist (Netherlands), French writer Andrei Makine, Germans Hans-Ulrich Treichel and Gila Lustiger, Albania's Ismail Kadare, Guillermo Martinez, of Argentina, Egyptian Hussein Serag, and Irish writer Niall Williams.
Yael Nahari, who has served as Mishkenot Sha'ananim's program director for the last four years, masterminded the festival and will organize the event. The festival's total budget of about NIS 1 million is to be provided by the Jerusalem Foundation, the Mifal Hapayis Culture and Arts Council, the Foreign Ministry, and other sources, including a number of foreign embassies.
"It was our dream," Nahari says. "The festival was born in response to a love of books and the fact that Israel is one of the world's leading nations in publishing and translating foreign literature. Mishkenot Sha'ananim is a natural and appropriate site for an event of this type. It has always been and continues to be a home for Israeli writers and writers from abroad. The central concept is to introduce writers to a broad audience, and generate meetings between Israeli and visiting writers." Sessions entitled "Karov-Rahok" (Near-Far) will pair leading Israeli writers with foreign visitors: Amos Oz and Gordimer; Meir Shalev and Erri De Luca ("God's Mountain"); David Grossman and Lidia Jorge (Jorge will also participate in a session with Avirama Golan, of Haaretz); Savyon Librecht and Hans-Ulrich Treichel (author of the darkly comic novel "Lost"); artist and novelist Boris Zaidman and Andrei Makine; Etgar Keret and Russell Banks; Yehudit Katzir and Anna Enquist; Zeruya Shalev and Gila Lustiger; Aharon Appelfeld and Niall Williams; Eshkol Nevo and Guillermo Martinez; Sami Michael and Germany's Ingo Schulze.
Other festival sessions will feature visiting writers and their Hebrew translators. Schools throughout the city will host writers from the festival, and plays and other events for children will be attended by Israelis Meir Shalev, Yossi Abulafia, Yehuda Atlas, Dani Karman, Rony Oren and others.
During the festival, the Jerusalem Cinematheque will screen children's films based on books, and during the evening hours, the Cinematheque will screen films chosen by participating authors. Erri De Luca chose Kurosawa's "Dersu Uzala" (1975), and Russell Banks chose the film "The Sweet Hereafter" based on his own 1992 book and directed by Atom Egoyan.
In addition, Yad Ben-Zvi, the capital's historical and cultural institute, will offer guided tours based on books that take place in Jerusalem, and also host musical events. Concert ticket costs will range between NIS 20 and NIS 40.
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