UK independent bookshops and publishers have pledged support for a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help rebuild a community bookshop and publishing house in Gaza.
Their move follows the announcement by Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and Founder and CEO of the UAE-based Kalimat Group (KG), that proceeds of her latest work in children’s literature, World Book Capital will be donated to libraries and cultural and educational institutions in Gaza.
Samir Mansour Library was destroyed in an Israeli missile attack just before the ceasefire. Now Yorkshire-based publisher Bluemoose Books and Dorset-based publisher and bookshop Little Toller are among indies to pledge support. Bluemoose publisher and co-founder Kevin Duffy said: “I think any bookshop or publisher that has been reduced to rubble needs our help. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, readers want stories and books to get them through some dark and difficult times. Bookshops should be an oasis of calm where creativity and imagination are set free.
“We have seen in the past 12 months the publishing and bookselling community working together and helping each other and that generosity should be extended to the book readers of Gaza too.”
The bookshop was established in the Seventies by Samir Mansour’s father, and Mansour began helping his father in the shop in the 1980s. In 2000 he establishing a publishing house, which grew to become an essential outlet for Palestinian authors and educators, especially after the blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2006.
He told the Palestinian Chronicle: “Forty years of my life were destroyed in a second. There are 100,000 books buried under this mountain of concrete. And for what? Not only my library had nothing to do with any political party or group, I myself do not have any personal affiliation with any party or group.”
One of the company’s most popular authors, Dr. Mahmoud Assaf, said: “The first book I have ever bought was in this library, and the first book I have ever authored was published by this library. This library was not only an expression of Gaza’s intellectual community but the intellectual identity of all Palestinians everywhere. It is the beautiful face of Gaza.”