Egypt's longest-running literary magazine at risk of closure

Ahram Online and Agencies, Wednesday 16 Nov 2011

Adab wa Naqd (Literature and Criticism) is facing serious financial challenges, and may close after 27 years of continuous publication


The literary magazine Adab wa Naqd (Literature and Criticism) is facing a serious financial crisis and may have to close after 27 years.

An important part of the Egyptian literary scene for decades and one of the most lasting contributions of the Tagammu (Unionist) Party, the monthly magazine was founded in 1984.

Managing editor Helmi Salim has said the November issue will not be issued, which will be the first time the magazine has not been published for 27 years, despite serious challenges and oppression during the Mubarak era.

Refaat El-Said, chairman and head of Tagammu, said the party is facing serious financial challenges, exacerbated by internal disputes, and Salim said staff hadn’t received their salaries for six months.

Various organisations were approached to provide alternative sources of funding for the magazine, including the General Organisation for Cultural Palaces, the Cultural Development Fund, the Arab Culture Organisation in Beirut, and the Sheikha May Cultural Centre in Bahrain, but with limited success. The main hurdle to the funding problem is that the magazine is published by a political party with restrictions on the sources of funding it can receive and its interaction with public and private organisations.

News of the magazine’s difficulties has caused a stir among cultural figures who recall how the magazine had contributed to the country’s cultural life and their own careers. Poet Shabaan Youssef expressed deep regret at the magazine’s possible closure as it had a strong heritage, especially in its earlier days, with two great editors-in-chief, Al-Tahher Makky and Farida El-Nakkash.

However, it seems unlikely the cultural community will rush save to the magazine given its limited distribution and reduced quality in recent years, partly because most contributors are volunteers. There was a proposal to change the magazine from a monthly to a quarterly but Salim opposed the idea.

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