Yes - of course - the question to be asked is: "What would Kafka think?" Kafka, who knew so well the ways of government and extrapolated their devious and self-serving powers in his own writing. To be a bug on the wall. To be accused when no crime was committed. To be classed as only a number and then counted out. Kafka would have said: "The more the merrier. Turn up the lights."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Fury over book fair's welcome for Saudi ArabiaIndex on Censorship condemns prestige places for oppressive regimes at events that 'should be standing up for freedom of expression'by Richard Lea and Alison Flood
Abdullah Al-Nasir at Bookworld Prague 2011, where he was the only Saudi writer to attend. Photograph: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images
Writers and freedom of speech campaigners have hit out at the organisers of Prague's Book World fair, after it emerged that despite the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's status as guest of honour at this year's festival, only one Saudi writer was present.
Abdullah Al-Nasir, described by the Moroccan author Abdelkader Benali who shared a platform with him at the festival as "more of a civil servant" than an author, was the only representative from the kingdom, after the joint winner of the 2011 International prize for Arabic fiction, Raja Alem, did not make a scheduled appearance.
Speaking to the Guardian from Prague, the editor of Index onCensorship Jo Glanville suggested that the representation of oppressive regimes at European book fairs was a "travesty". Last month's London Book Fair focused on Russia, she added, while China was the guest of honour at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair and is due to be the "Market Focus" for next year's London Book Fair.
"All of these countries are oppressive regimes," she said, "where censorship is the norm, where writers who are celebrated in translation outside their own countries find it difficult to get published at home."
"Book fairs are obviously a marketplace," she continued, "but should also be standing up loud and proud for freedom of expression."
The Syrian writer Robin Yassin-Kassab said it was "terrible that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was guest of honour, this year of all years". Citing the Saudi Arabian regime's "appalling record" on censorship and its controversial intervention in Bahrain, he suggested that Saudi Arabia is "at the heart of the Arab counter-revolution", and suggested there was a contradiction in the Prague book fair receiving funds from "a book-banning state".
The director of the Prague Book World festival, Dana Kalinová, rejected the criticism, suggesting that it was important to hold a "continuous dialogue", calling isolation "the worst solution of all". (more) http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/may/16/book-fair-welcome-saudi-arabia