Animated gif of 2022 IPA Prix Voltaire shorlist

On the occasion of the first World Expression Forum, WEXFO, being held in Lillehammer, the International Publishers Association has announced the shortlist for the 2022 IPA Prix Voltaire, celebrating publishers from Afghanistan/Canada, Guatemala, India, Thailand and Ukraine. The award ceremony will be held at the 33rd International Publishers Congress in Jakarta on 12 November.

 The 2022 IPA Prix Voltaire shortlist is:

  • VK Karthika, India
  • Samesky (Fah Deaw Kan) Publishing, Thailand
  • Raúl Figueroa Sarti/F&G Editores, Guatemala
  • Nahid Shahalimi, Afghanistan/Canada
  • Ukrainian Publishers & Booksellers Association (UPBA), Ukraine

 Notes on each nominee below.

Ahead of the announcement, Rasha Al Ameer, co-founder of 2021 IPA Prix Voltaire laureate Dar Al Jadeed publishing house in Lebanon, delivered a powerful speech touching on her brother’s murder, the dire situation in Lebanon and the parallels between the atrocities in Syria and Ukraine. Freedom is a delicate gem. In times of war, freedom murmurs and hibernates. Our duty is to rouse it and stand by it, and that is what Prix Voltaire is doing. The Prix Voltaire did this when it awarded Dar al Jadeed the same year Lokman was assassinated: it was a clear message to those who are making decisions to kill with impunity that Lokman’s blood counts.

Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: We received a record number of nominations this year, which is a tribute to the remarkable publishers, publishing challenging works, but also a sad indictment on the freedom to publish situation around the world. The publishers shortlisted for the 2022 IPA Prix Voltaire shine a light for all of us.

Bodour Al Qasimi, IPA President said: Publishers enable human progress and development by enriching public debate, catalyzing critical societal dialogues, and giving voice to the marginalized. The Prix Voltaire plays a very important watchdog role in monitoring the status of freedom to publish globally so that publishers can continue to fulfill this role. By highlighting champions of freedom to publish and helping to secure justice, the Prix Voltaire prevents government overreach and abuses that perpetuate self-censorship or erode freedom to publish. 

 

About the 2021 Prix Voltaire

Prix Voltaire nominees are publishers – individuals, groups or organizations – who stand firm on freedom to publish, be it as longstanding defenders of these values or having recently published works despite pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment from various sources.

Nominees have typically published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, be it from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. For the purposes of the IPA Prix Voltaire, the definition of ‘publisher’ is an individual, collective or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.

The IPA Prix Voltaire, which comes with a CHF 10,000 prize, is made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, all of which are publishing houses and organizations that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire recognizes.

The current sponsors of the IPA Prix Voltaire are, in alphabetical order:

  • Albert Bonniers Förlag (Sweden)
  • Bonnier Media Deutschland (Germany)
  • Holtzbrinck (Germany)
  • Penguin Random House
  • Norstedts (Sweden)
  • Samlaget (Norway)
  • Verlag C. H. Beck (Germany)

 

 

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VK Karthika, India

VK Karthika is one of the best-known names in Indian publishing. She was the editor of Westland Books (now owned and subsequently closed by Amazon). She published several books that made the Indian government uncomfortable.

Karthika VK’s career has included work at Penguin Books India and HarperCollins India. In 2017, she moved to Westland and launched a new imprint, Context, that aimed to publish ‘serious, thoughtful, politically engaged fiction and non-fiction’ from Indian authors.

In 2022, it was reported that she left Westland Books to join Pratilipi, an online writing platform and publishing house.

She has been responsible for publishing several of India’s favorite writers and has spoken about her willingness to publish titles that are considered to be “activist publishing”.

 

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SameSky (Fah Deaw Kan) Publishing, Thailand 

SameSky Publishing was established in 2002 by three ex-student activists, Thanapol Eawsakul, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and Chaithawat Tulatol.

Since 2002, Samesky Publishing has publicized a large number of academic journals and books in social science and humanity, focusing on critical orientation. Some suggest this critical perspective has disturbed the status quo and that the most recent two decades of volatility in Thai politics has impeded freedom of speech in Thailand, particularly with regards to the abolition of the monarchy – something their work seeks to address. Eawsakul as executive editor has had to confront monitoring from state officials attempting to persecute him for sedition.

 

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Raúl Figueroa Sarti/F&G Editores, Guatemala

F&G Editores was founded in 1993 by Raul Figueroa Sarti, who continues to run the publishing house. Despite significant personal danger, Mr. Figeroa Sarti has chosen to build his publishing house in Guatemala, in the process serving as an activist for a human civil society in a region torn by war and corruption.

As a publisher, Figueroa Sarti has promoted the organization of independent publishers in Central America. Since its launch F&G Editores has published some the most important fiction and non-fiction in Central America.

In 2019, Figueroa Sarti was awarded the International Freedom to Publish/Jeri Laber Award by the Association of American Publishers for F&G Editores’ work in defending freedom of expression and the freedom to publish.

 

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Nahid Shahalimi, Afghanistan/Canada

Nahid Shahalimi is an Afghan-born artist and human rights advocate who fled Afghanistan with her mother and sisters at the age of 11 in 1985, and later settled in Canada. As a child, she witnessed the destruction of her country under the Soviet occupation, which ultimately sparked a passion in her to dedicate her life to promoting peace, tolerance, respect, and acceptance.

Between 2014 and 2018, she collected stories from Afghan women who represent examples of courage and resilience. She collected these stories in the book Where Courage Bears the Soul: We the Women of Afghanistan, published in 2017 by Elisabeth Sandmann Verlag. She has been involved in women and girls’ projects in Afghanistan for more than 20 years.

Recent examples include the book released within weeks after Kabul’s fall in August 2021, We are still here!, in which 13 Afghan women, some of them in significant danger, speak out about women’s situations and their rights in the country from the spheres of politics, art, culture, society, business, and the media. The German edition was released in December 2021 by Elisabeth Sandmann Publishing.

 

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Ukrainian Publishers & Booksellers Association (UPBA), Ukraine

The Ukranian Publishers & Booksellers Association (UPBA) was established on June 17, 1994 and has 95 members. The association seeks to create favorable conditions for Ukrainian publishing entities to effectively provide the population with books.

With the Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022, the local publishing community in Ukraine is struggling to survive as Ukrainians are forced to seek refuge outside of their country. The association has been actively committed to sharing information and promoting initiatives with the aim of supporting their members and helping them to survive. They have also been engaged in the provision of books to refugees outside the country and attempting to keep the country’s publishing tradition and culture alive.

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