Ilonggo writer and filmmaker Peter Solis Nery, dubbed as “multi-awarded Filipino author” by the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) in the United Arab Emirates, made history as the first Filipino author invited by the book fair in its 34 years of operation.
The SIBF, envisioned to strengthen Sharjah’s position as the literary and cultural capital of the Islamic and Arabic world, is the fourth largest in the world, and only until recently has started to invite foreign authors from Southeast Asia as cultural guests. In an international press release for Nery’s participation in the fair, it was noted that the decision to invite Filipino talents to the event was prompted by the big contingent of Filipino expats in the UAE.
Nery, a multi-awarded poet, playwright, fictionist, screenwriter, filmmaker, and Palanca Awards Hall of Fame honoree writing in English, Filipino and Hiligaynon, participated in four cultural events at the 2015 SIBF: poetry reading on Nov. 6, school visitation and lecture on Nov 8, panel discussion on Literature and Film on Nov. 9, followed by a book signing session.
Except for the visit in an all-Islamic girls school, all of Nery’s events at the Sharjah Expo Center were attended by Filipinos from the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah, mostly his kababayans from Dumangas and Iloilo City who came in flocks.
Aside from his “rockstar attitude,” which was described as “a breath of fresh air,” by the foreign press that has been covering the very conservative Arab book fair for years, Nery also wowed the crowd with his distinctively colorful and fashionable wardrobe.
Out of his participation in the book fair, Nery has received offers for his works to be translated into Arabic and Urdu, and to be included in World Literature courses. Activities of the Ilonggo author in the SIBF were also covered by the media from the Middle East, North Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Pakistan, and several Filipino news agencies in the UAE.