Archive for January, 2008

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Khaleej Times Online >> News >> THE WORLD
Egypt censors book fair

28 January 2008

CAIRO – Egypt has banned a number of Western and secular books from the 40th Cairo International Book Fair, including works by Czech author Milan Kundera and Morocco’s Mohamed Choukri, publishers said on Monday.

The Cairo book fair, the Arab world’s largest, is dominated by Islamist and educational works, an AFP correspondent reported, and the authorities have not said why the other works were seized at Cairo airport.

“The Egyptian authorities have given no explanation, we were neither informed nor consulted about this measure and the books have not been returned to us,” said Rana Idriss, director of Lebanese publishing house Dar al-Adab.

She said that four works by Kundera, including “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting,” were barred from the fair.

Germany’s Al-Jamal publishers said the authorities had seized copies of Moroccan author Mohamed Choukri’s autobiographical “For Bread Alone” which contains references to teenage sex and drug use and is banned in several Arab countries.

The taboo-busting “Love in Saudi Arabia” by young novelist Ibrahim Badi has also been banned, along with “Women of Sand and Myrrh” by Lebanon’s Hanan al-Sheikh.

The story deals with the position of women in the Gulf and mentions homosexuality.

Elias Khoury, a renowned Lebanese writer who describes himself as atheist, secular and left-wing, had his “As If She Were Sleeping” seized.

Egypt’s State Information Service says that the Cairo book fair has “over the past years become a great cultural event, and a spacious scene for conducting dialogue among intellectuals, men of letters and artists.

My recent interview with author Kim Powers is up over at BiblioBuffet. I think it turned out rather well, mostly because Kim’s so charming.

I hope you’ll swing by and check it out!


Happy 2008

Posted: January 2, 2008 in Holiday Wishes

Another year, another opportunity. In turning over the calendar to 2008 it seems all that pristine white space is a new beginning. And it is, in many ways. When the year is new it feels like a good time to start something new, to make a resolution. At this time of year it’s tempting to make all sorts of vows. The problem is, those vows are dratted hard to keep. There’s the rub.

My own theory on why that failure is so common is because of what I call the “fallacy of the miracle of extra hours.” In other words, we resolve to begin all these new things without taking into account what we’re already doing, forgetting the day only contains 24 hours. But with our hopped up new resolve we think we can shoehorn in another few so we can accomplish all these great new things that will so improve our lives, make us better people and bring us more joy than anyone has ever known.

The problem is we overwhelm ourselves with it all. When we’re overwhelmed we tend to fragment, and when we fragment we do everything superficially and nothing with any real quality. Things start falling by the wayside. We feel guilty. Resolutions get tossed aside. We feel MORE guilty. Anxiety sets in, followed closely by depression. We ditch it all, go back to our old ways and feel a hundred times worse for it.

See the problem?

The crux of the matter is, it is possible to change. It’s possible to do all manner of things, and there’s no time like the present to start. But you have to look at things reasonably. Go ahead and dream of the 1,000 things you want to do before you die. Write them out, daydream about them, prioritize them. Then look at your situation. What MUST you do in order to make a living. What do you do that you can’t or won’t give up. What can fall by the wayside and not be missed.

Then do a timeline. Take it out five years, then ten. Twenty, if you’re feeling really comfortable with the idea. Compare your list to the time you have available to add to your current schedule (after you’ve streamlined it to those things that must get accomplished).

Then take a hard look at what’s possible to do. What you can afford, what you currently have vacation time available to do, if it requires travel, or time and money if you don’t have to leave where you are. Hint: free and cheap things are VERY GOOD to start with. There are few things worse than going into an expensive new hobby gung ho, then realizing you have no time or compulsion to carry them through. If there’s a free or cheap version of something, try that first. THEN invest, once you know you have a true interest or need for it.

When you have a rough idea what you’d like to do and where it falls on your priority list, start researching. What do you need in order to do these things? How much money will it take? Keep a journal of what you find. Track important details. Most importantly, set deadlines. Don’t bog yourself down in the research. Decide when you’re going to start, and allow enough flexibility to allow for the unexpected, but set a FIRM final deadline.


That’s my own best advice. It’s nothing you didn’t already know, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it, especially at this time of year. Try something new this year, but do it without stress and therefore without regret. Remember you’re still just one person, even if it is a new year, and time does not expand exponentially, much as we may wish it to be so.

I wish you all a 2008 filled with health, hope and new experiences.