The International Publishers Association Prix Voltaire 2019 shortlist announced on April 16, 2019, features two African publishers in Khaled Lufti and NB Publishers.
The International Publishers Association (IPA) Prix Voltaire is given to publishers who provide authors with the tools to disseminate their written ideas assuming the same risks as the writers themselves. It honours the freedom to publish, without which many forms of freedom of expression would be impossible. Nominees have usually published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, be it from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression.
The IPA announced the shortlist for the IPA Prix Voltaire 2019 and the five publishers in the running are;
- Khaled Lufti (Egypt).
- NB Publishers (South Africa).
- Azadeh Parsapour (Iran/UK).
- Tekin Publishing House (Turkey).
- Moe Way / The Eras (Myanmar).
About the African publishers shortlisted.
Khaled Lufti, Publisher and Bookseller, Egypt.
On February 4, according to reports, Khalid Lutfi, founder of Cairo’s Tanmia Bookshop and Publishing, was sentenced to five years on charges of divulging military secrets and spreading rumors for having distributed an Arabic translation of the book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, by Uri Bar-Joseph. The case started when Tanmia’s founder signed an agreement with Arab Scientific Publishers to publish an Egyptian edition of the book.
Tanmia Bookshop opened in 2011 and later spawned a highly respected publishing house. The publishing house brought out a number of acclaimed authors in translation; in 2016 Lutfi told Ursula Lindsey that two of his most popular titles were by George Orwell and Stephen Hawking. Tanmia also published original works in Arabic, including a children’s book version of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “Think of Others,” which won an Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature. Although some authors and publishers have been reluctant to speak out about the case, there is a solidarity campaign using the hashtag #متضامن_مع_خالد_لطفي.
NB Publishers, South Africa.
NB Publishers is a publishing company in South Africa with imprints working across most genres. One imprint, Tafelberg, was behind one of the most controversial books in South Africa, The President’s Keeper, by Jacques Pauw. The book revealed many cases of state capture which are now being investigated. It was published amid intimidation and harassment of both the author and publishing house (with a risk of jail and physical harm), including from the State Security Agency and the South African Revenue Service – both targeted by the book. The book has gone on to be a huge commercial success and won the most prestigious national award, the Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award.
The IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee will select the eventual 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire recipient, with the award presentation taking place at Seoul International Book Fair on Friday, June 21.