Lebanon’s Dar Onboz: Arabic books at a Francophone fair


(From Publishing Perspectives. Link to the complete article given below)

The independent publisher of mostly children’s books, Dar Onboz, has just concluded its second appearance at Beirut’s 25th Francophone Salon du Livre.

Their attendance isn’t a given, because Dar Onboz (The House of Hemp Seeds) publishes books in Arabic, and the fair’s books are mostly in French. But this is Lebanon, where books in Arabic, French, and English are the norm.

Visitors stopped by the Dar Onboz stand to admire the books’ original designs, while children participated in workshops.

“We kept hearing, ‘Oh my god, books in Arabic can look like this?’” says Nadine Touma. “You have people at the French book fair who wouldn’t normally go to an Arabic book fair, and it was interesting to break this impression that books in Arabic are boring or ugly.”

‘We Believe Our Books Stand Alone’

When Touma and Sivine Ariss founded the press in 2006 with graphic designer Raya Khalaf, they wanted to make beautiful books for children that celebrated the Arabic language, as Publishing Perspectives reported more than eight years ago.

Artists, filmmakers, storytellers, performers, and musicians, Ariss and Touma, 12 years after the inception of the press, continue to make books that encompass their vision, as Touma puts it, “pedagogical, driven by an aesthetic design, and in the Arabic language that we love.”

The company’s titles sometimes include books for adults, such as this year’s Al Makan (The Place), the memoirs of the late author Emily Nasrallah, known for her profound attachment to her village in southern Lebanon.

The project was a perfect fit with Dar Onboz’s way of doing things. The book, an object in itself, became its own ecosystem, working first as a memoir with its roots in the history of a small village in Lebanon—details about everyday customs, social interactions, and economic immigration.

Read more at the Publishing Perspectives link here

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