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New Voices of Modern Arab Literature | About the Project

Beirut39 logoThe Alliance of Artists Communities has joined Beirut39 in supporting a new generation of Arab writers by offering residencies to Beirut39 writers in host sites throughout the world. Alliance residency programs support living artists in the creation of new work, in the belief that the cultivation of new art and ideas is essential to human progress.

Although important new literary awards have increased the profile of Arabic literature in the Arab world and worldwide, the writers that have benefited generally have a long writing career behind them. The Beirut 39 competition set out to identify and honor writers who are at the start of their careers and who are often struggling to find a wider audience. The 39 writers that have been selected are some of the most exciting new voices of Arab literature.

The Alliance sought residency hosts in 2010 and one of the first partners was the La Napoule Art Foundation, a US-based organization operating a residency at the Clews Center for the Arts in France. La Napoule hosted the first residencies and enabled us to pilot this project, which ultimately resulted in 30 residencies for 18 writers at 18 different residency programs, from 2010 to 2013. The writers were hosted by residencies in unique communities across the US – from Santa Fe to Santa Monica, from an island off Puget Sound to a historic house on a Midwestern prairie – as well as programs in Turkey, Italy, Morocco, France, and the United Arab Emirates. In addition to providing residencies, many of the host organizations also programmed activities connecting the writers with a wider public. This partnership has being coordinated by Lori Wood, director of Fes Medina (Morocco).

Funding to the Alliance of Artists Communities for this project is provided by The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art | Building Bridges Program and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Alliance of Artists Communities
The Alliance of Artists Communities is the service organization for the field of artists’ communities and residencies. Believing that the cultivation of new art and ideas is essential to human progress, the Alliance’s mission is to advocate for and support artists’ communities, in order to advance the endeavors of artists. The Alliance represents the field of 500 residency programs in the U.S. and more than 1,500 worldwide. Artists’ communities and residency programs support artists of any discipline – writers, visual artists, composers, choreographers, architects, filmmakers, and others – with dedicated time and space for the creation of new work.

About Beirut39
How far has Arab literature evolved, how far has it traveled? What messages are the new generation of storytellers giving us? Beirut39 inspires a fresh look at modern Arab literature. A collaboration between the Hay Festival and Beirut World Capital of the Book 2009, the project will bring together 39 of the most interesting writers of Arab heritage under 39 years of age. More information can be found at:

[return to main project page for more information]