BEIRUT — From Oct. 2 to 8, 2023, Beyrouth Livres (Beirut Books), the international Francophone book festival, returns for a second edition.
With 80 events taking place across 14 Lebanese cities, how do you decide what to attend? Maya Ghandour Hert, L'Orient-Le Jour's culture editor, looks at the literary feast on offer for the event's opening day.
But first, here's all you need to know about the event:
- What exactly is Beyrouth Livres: It's a literary festival. It brings together a number of events, entirely free of charge, centered around books, while leaving plenty of room for multidisciplinarity. In other words, not only are there meetings, signings and conferences with authors, but also musicians, actors and artists from a variety of backgrounds in original formats: theatrical performances, drawing concerts, exhibitions …
- Where does it take place? The festival takes place all over Lebanon, in 14 cities and 34 venues. That's what makes this long-awaited cultural event so original. In Beirut, the itinerary includes Monnot, Mathaf (Museum), Clemenceau, Gemmayzeh, Sursock … Click on this link to check out the 2023 program in French.
- When is the event? From Oct. 2 to 8.
- How many events are there? 80 events, 70 authors, 10 exhibitions.
- Who's organizing the festival? The French Embassy in Lebanon and the Institut français.
- What's special about this year's festival? For its 2023 edition, the festival aims to build bridges between the world's French-language literatures. The program focuses on new writing, with a particular emphasis on the impact of social networks and artificial intelligence on contemporary literary creation. The event also features a wide-ranging youth program, with a delegation from Bayard publishing and a number of events aimed at the very young. As part of an ambitious school program, the festival's guest authors will be visiting over 80 schools and universities.
- What's new this year? This year's new features include a professional day dedicated to members from the book industry on Friday, Oct. 6, on the campus of the École Supérieure des Affaires (ESA). Translation, transfer of rights, digital creation, the book economy, mediation: these are just some of the issues that will be addressed through a series of meetings, conferences and themed workshops.
- Can I buy books at Beyrouth Livres? While all events will be entirely free and accessible to all, the festival is offering a small book fair on Saturday, Oct. 7 and Sunday, Oct. 8. All authors' books will be on sale in the festival's Grande librairie on Saturday, Oct. 7 and Sunday, Oct. 8 on the campus of the Ecole Supérieure des Affaires (ESA, Clemenceau), as well as in all IFL media library networks. A single subscription allows you to reserve, borrow and return books in all the network's media libraries.
Where to go on the first day of Beyrouth Livres, Monday, Oct. 2? Our culture editor, Maya Ghandour Hert, takes a look at what's on.
It's impossible to divide yourself into four parts on this day. The festival's grand opening evening takes place in four Lebanese cities: Byblos, Baalbeck, Sour and Tripoli.
So, should you be in the old souks of Byblos, under the lush fuchsia bougainvillea of Eddé Yard, to hear Véronique Ovaldé, Sofía Karámpali Farhat and Joy Majdalani recite poetry and literary texts about femininity and desire at 8 p.m.? Or take a seat at the Mamelouk House in Sour to hear, at 7 p.m., one of the city's children, Joseph Safieddine, as well as author Oliver Rohe and cartoonist Cyril Doisneau for a comic reading about war and memory? Or finally understand why Valérie Cachard and Hadi Deaibes are so attached to the yellow chair, by attending the 8 p.m. performance of Victoria K, Delphine Seyrig et moi ou la Petite Chaise jaune in Tripoli at the Safadi cultural center (in partnership with OIF, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie)?
Or should we head for the Temple of the Sun and seek out Francis el Boune in the magnificent architectural gem that is the Palmyra Hotel in Baalbeck, for a never-before-seen performance reading (at 8 p.m.) by Omar Abi Azar and François Beaune?
Personally, I'm thinking of putting my newly acquired teleportation skills to good use. Or hope for a live transmission on the Institut français du Liban's social networks.