The Coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc on literary communities around the world in recent weeks.

The Coronavirus, according to Wikipedia, is a disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019 and recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. As of 16 March, over 173,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in more than 150 countries and territories, with major outbreaks in mainland China, Europe, Iran and South Korea, among others.

As the illness has spread across the world, authorities have been forced to institute measures to ensure the safety of the general public including announcing the cancellation of many types of events. Major sporting activities like the USA’s NBA, NFL, and NHL, as well as football leagues in Europe like Serie A in Italy and Premier League in England, have been cancelled until further notice.

The world of literature has been no different as major events are put off as the pandemic threatens to overwhelm the world health system. Livre Paris (Paris Book Fair) 2020, to take place from March 20-23, was cancelled following the French government’s decision to ban all public gatherings of 5000 people or more “in a confined space” to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. The London Book Fair, set for March 10-12, was also cancelled following the escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Europe. Other festivals followed this lead with Palestine Book Festival also cancelled as the “Coronavirus epidemic and the measures taken by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority made it impossible for the festival to take place.”

On March 11, the ceremony to announce the winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2020 was cancelled. The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair which hosts the ceremony, set to take place from April 15-21, was postponed to the end of May as a “precautionary measure to protect public health.”

On March 14, the African Book Festival in Berlin which was to take place from April 17-19 initially had announced the cancellation of the opening ceremony before the festival was called off. The organisers stated that while it was not easy to make the decision, it was “an ethical and moral obligation to guarantee the well-being and health of all our guests and our community first.”


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ANNOUNCEMENT Aufgrund der Entwicklungen im Kampf gegen den COVID-19 Virus sind wir zu der Ansicht gelangt, dass es das Beste ist, den Empfehlungen der Behörden zu folgen und das African Book Festival 2020 abzusagen. Die Entscheidung haben wir uns nicht leicht gemacht, glauben aber, dass es unsere moralische und ethische Pflicht ist, die Gesundheit aller Gäste und unserer Community zu garantieren. Danke für Ihr Verständnis. Bleiben Sie gesund. ******************************************* With the development of COVID-19 virus, we understand it is best to follow the recommendations of the authorities and cancel the African Book Festival 2020. It wasn’t an easy decision but we believe it’s an ethical and moral obligation to guarantee the well-being and health of all our guests and our community first. Thank you for your understanding. Stay safe. #announcement #corona #covid_19 #berlin #africanbookfestivalberlin #berlin #africanbookfestival #angola #cancelled #absage #staysafe #healthfirst

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Today March 16, the Time of the Writer which was set to happen from March 16 – 21 in Durban, South Africa was cancelled on advice by the South African Presidency relating to the outbreak of the Corona Virus. Those who had bought tickets to attend the festival were asked to request for refunds by festival advisors.


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Dear Time of the Writer fans, After much consideration and in view of the current global Corona pandemic, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel the physical version the #TOW2020 festival, which was due to take place from Monday, 16 March until Saturday, 21 March 2020. We are, at all times, committed to supporting South African writers and are currently working hard to make resources available to facilitate a part of the festival through digital and media channels. We are indeed excited about this development. Please keep a lookout on our social media channels for the recent updates. People who have already purchased tickets, will be contacted by us regarding their refunds. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 031 ‪260 2506‬ / [email protected] or send us a Facebook chat message. We thank you for your understanding and for your continued support and we are looking forward to your patronage in the future on and off the internet. The Time of the Writer Team

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There are other smaller events that have been cancelled or have shifted in dates of over the next few months from book launches to festivals. At this trying time when many countries are on shutdown we urge people to stay safe and wash their hands. They should also perhaps consider buying books that will go a long way to supplementing the incomes of the artists that would have been attending these events.

Update: International Publishers Congress  2020 cancelled.

The International Publishers Association (IPA) and the Norwegian Publishers Association (NPA) have taken the difficult decision to cancel the 33rd International Publishers Congress which was scheduled to be held in Lillehammer, Norway, from 28-30 May 2020.

The climate of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it impossible to proceed with the Congress as scheduled. Apart from serious questions of maintaining personal health and safety, both IPA and NPA wish to provide short-term certainty to speakers, delegates and Congress partners.

The IPA and NPA are aware that this decision will raise many practical questions for speakers and delegates. We will contact delegates and speakers as soon as possible.

José Borghino, Secretary General, International Publishers Association

Kristenn Einarsson, Managing Director, Norwegian Publishers Association