Erbil book fair opens in Kurdistan Region in Iraq

By Ögmundur Jónsson
March 27, 2023
Firdaous Mahmood

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region, Iraq — Since the 15th Erbil International Book Fair kicked off March 8, tens of thousands have come looking for books on a wide range of topics — including history, politics, science, technology and religion — as well as novels, poetry and children’s books.

This cultural event — held for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID pandemic — is a product of historic advances in the struggle of the Kurdish people for national self-determination. Some 30 million Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey make up the largest nation in the world without their own country. Amid the upheavals caused by U.S.-led military assaults since 1990,  and other wars in the region, including the bloody civil war in Syria, Kurds have established an autonomous region and government in northeast Iraq.

Since the imperialist invasion and occupation of 2003 and terrorist violence that followed, many have sought refuge here from other parts of Iraq, and since 2011 from Syria. This is reflected in the range of people you meet. Participants have also traveled from across the Kurdistan Region, as well as from other parts of Iraq, including Mosul, Baghdad and Kirkuk. Most are looking for books in Kurdish, Arabic or English.

Pathfinder Books in London has participated in every book fair in this regional capital of the Kurdish region since 2017. More than 680 books by leaders of the communist movement and other revolutionaries have been sold halfway through the 10-day event.

Pathfinder’s latest title is The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us: The Socialist Workers Party Looks Forward  by SWP leaders Jack Barnes, Mary-Alice Waters and Steve Clark. Clark spoke on this at one of a series of televised presentations and book signings hosted by the book fair organizers.

Other titles addressing political questions arising out of capitalism’s world disorder have been popular, including Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity  by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, George Novack and Waters; Lenin’s Final Fight  by V.I. Lenin; The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation  by Abram Leon; and a number of books on the fight for women’s emancipation.

Like many others, Hoshmand Salar said he knew Pathfinder from a previous fair, where he bought a collection of speeches by Malcolm X. “He influenced me a lot, so I was glad to see books on his life and ideas.” This time he got Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power  by Barnes and The Bolivian Diary  by Che Guevara.