Russian writers say they are glad to be in Egypt again for Cairo International Book Fair

Reham El-Adawi , Wednesday 7 Jul 2021

Russian writers Dmitri Streshnev and Natalie Kurtog talk to Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly at the opening of the Cairo Book Fair

The Russian Cultural Centre in Cairo held a seminar on 3 July for a delegation of Russian writers participating in the 52nd Cairo International Book Fair.

(L-r) Dmitri Streshnev, Ashraf Sarhan, Natalie Kurtog with Sherif Gad and Mohamed Nasr El-Gebaly (photo credit of the Russian Centre)

The Russian writers are Natalie Kurtog, who writes children's literature and is a member of the Russian Writers Union, and Dmitri Streshnev, one of the most notable specialists in Middle East writings. Also attending was the head of the Russian Language Department at the Faculty of Alsun Mohamed Nasr El-Gebaly and translator Samia Tawfik.

Kurtog and Streshnev expressed their “great admiration” for the major transformations Egypt is currently witnessing, compared to when they last visited the country seven years ago, including the number of new facilities with a distinguished architectural style and the upgraded roads.

During the meeting, which was moderated by director of cultural activity at the centre Sherif Gad, the book Tales about the Rabbit by Kurtog was discussed. The book was translated by students of the Institute of Oriental Countries in Moscow into Arabic, Chinese and Italian, and is dedicated to the children of Syria who lost their parents in the war. Another book by Kurtog, Pillow Tales, translated by professor and translator Samia Tawfik, was discussed by the translator, who described her experience in translating the book as “extremely enjoyable.”

This in addition to the book Diaries of the Great Priest Ivan Sergeevich, written by Dmitri Streshnev, which was issued by the Egyptian General Book Organisation and translated by Mohamed Nasr El-Gabali and Adel Seddik.

For his part, Streshnev expressed his happiness to be participating in the 52nd Cairo International Book Fair and his satisfaction with the outstanding translation of his book into Arabic. He also stressed that he is keen to have more of his work translated into Arabic.

El-Gabali, the head of the Russian Language Department at Ain Shams University, said that the experience of translating Streshnev's book was interesting, saying, “We had a point of view in changing the title and the author welcomed it,” while Adel Seddik said he was happy to work with El-Gabali and translate the book.

Kurtog expressed her happiness to be visiting Egypt once again, saying she loves its people, and to meet her friend Egyptian translator Samia Tawfik, for whom she translated her first novel Pillow Tales. This was in cooperation with the late Hussein El-Shafei, president of the Egyptian-Russian Foundation for Culture and Science and the Egyptian Association of Alumni of Russian and Soviet Universities, who passed away a few days ago.

Also present were Fahd El-Areqi, head of the Yemeni community's council in Egypt, who thanked the organising committee of the seminar, expressing his happiness to meet the delegation of Russian writers, and requesting an increase in the number of books translated from Russian into Arabic.

The grand finale was a singing recital by singer Mohamed Sherif, who performed a song in Russian, Italian and Arabic, while Streshnev surprised the audience by singing a song in Arabic.

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