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December 06, 2006
Rimal Publisher Nora Shawwa - Interview on Sharjah TV
Sharjah TV covered the Sharjah World Book Fair in 2006. The following was an interview conducted with Nora Shawwa, Owner/Publisher of Rimal Publications:
Yes, this is our first time at the Sharjah World Book Fair.
How did you begin publishing and why?
About thirteen years ago, when they were much younger, my children needed to use an Arabic dictionary for their homework. I couldn't find any comprehensive dictionaries for them to use other than ones similar to Al Munjid, which was too complex and can be somewhat intimidating for children. Based on that, I decided start putting together a comprehensive Arabic dictionary, easy to use and specifically tailored for children. The dictionary we published, Manhal Al-Lugha Al Sagheer, has over 3,000 words and is very easy to use including illustrations. So, I literally formed my publishing company - Rimal Publications - based on that specific project and now my children are very much involved in working with me in our publishing house.
So, you only focused on publishing children books?
At the beginning I did publish several children's books in both Arabic and English, yet my personal interest was always focused on Palestinian history and culture. So, I began publishing historical books on Palestine.
In the early 1990's, I conducted extensive research and realized that there wasn't a single comprehensive book on the history of Gaza, neither in Arabic nor English. So, I published the book Life at the Crossroads: A History of Gaza, it was written by Gerald Butt. It is unfortunately true that the city of Gaza is now mostly recognized through the media as a place of constant turmoil and violence, but this city has always been strategically located in the region and played a very important role throughout history.
So, this is the first of its kind book on Gaza? And what type of readers do you have for such a publication?
Yes, it covers around 3,000 years of history up to Oslo. It has been reviewed by Sarah Roy from Harvard University and the International Herald Tribune among many others. We are now considering printing an updated edition, but nothing is confirmed yet. The book has many readers, mostly individuals interested in the topic, but we also get many orders placed by universities and research centers.
The Gaza book is a wonderful example of your success. I also noticed you have published the Fables of Kalilah & Dimnah. How's the international response to this book?
It's quite successful. We have already printed The Fables of Kalilah & Dimnah twice within the past four years. This is due to the fact that it is the latest modern translation into the English language. The last direct translation of this book from Arabic to English was in 1800. We have noticed in recent sales that people and many corporate companies are purchasing this book as gifts, the largest orders placed came from cities like Beirut, Amman and Athens.
Readers often forget that the most significant aspect of this style of literature is that it is aimed at adults. We all learned of the fables when we were younger in school and forget most of them as we grow older.
We noticed that you included a book on Cyprus as well?
Because I have been living in Cyprus for the past 16 years, I decided to publish a book about the island. As you may be aware, Cyprus is divided due to the war in 1974. Since I can empathize with the citizen of a divided country, being originally Palestinian myself, I published a book that embodies both the northern or Turkish Cyprus and the south.
Cyprus: An Island Apart is not a political or historical book, but more of a travel book suitable for tourists mostly. The book was written as a personal experience by the author with a very witty approach. Seamus MacHugh includes the history and different characteristics of the culture covering all the major parts of the island. It is one of the more successful books about Cyprus in Europe and has been getting great reader reviews.
Thank you very much for joining us today Mrs. Shawwa.
It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me on your show.
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