literature

Frameworks for cultural diplomacy in the U.S. are often too narrow and too broad. On the one hand, self-identified practitioners of cultural diplomacy – within and outside government – tend to identify, if somewhat generically, specific exportable forms of expressive culture (think: music, theater, literature, dance, murals, or film).

Saudi Arabia boasts about the annual Riyadh International Book Fair, where Saudis can explore a flourishing book market, meet authors and engage in intellectual discussion. Every year, however, the book fair is transformed from an intellectual market into something more resembling a battle for the hearts and minds of Saudis.

Saudi Arabia boasts about the annual Riyadh International Book Fair, where Saudis can explore a flourishing book market, meet authors and engage in intellectual discussion. Every year, however, the book fair is transformed from an intellectual market into something more resembling a battle for the hearts and minds of Saudis.

The bookshops are stocking up, the hotels undergoing spring-cleans and the pubs preparing to welcome guests keen to follow in the footsteps of Wales's most famous poet and hellraiser. Admirers of Dylan Thomas are expected to descend in droves on South Wales this year not just from across the UK but from the US, Europe and the far east to join a year-long celebration marking the centenary of his birth.

Like torture and curfews, book banning in Brazil went out with the military dictatorship almost 30 years ago. Back then, intellectuals, artists, and politicians hailed the end of the long night of authoritarian rule (1964 to 1985) with a burst of creativity and civic commotion. É proibido proibir—“Prohibition is prohibited,”—proclaimed singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso, who was censored under the military and spent years in exile. Veloso’s slogan became the meme for the new era of democratic liberty.

North Korea has its own version of the iPad—it's called the Samjiyon. Internet access is tightly controlled by the human-rights-allergic regime, so the device is merely another conduit for state propaganda. It comes pre-loaded with games, a multi-language dictionary, and an interesting collection of eBooks in the "foreign literature" section.

Chinese readers of Ezra F. Vogel’s sprawling biography of China’s reformist leader Deng Xiaoping may have missed a few details that appeared in the original English edition. The Chinese version did not mention that Chinese newspapers had been ordered to ignore the Communist implosion across Eastern Europe in the late 1980s.

The City of Love has had a falling out with literature. And in its quest to get back to its literary pinnacle, Paris is turning to outsiders for help. This weekend, Paris hopes to turn around a several decades-long literary decline with an international conference of literary leaders, featuring names like Salman Rushdie, John Banville, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. Various city cultural organizations have donated to the efforts to get Paris back on the map, including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Louvre museum.

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