Emirati authors and poets to shine at London Book Fair


The Sharjah Book Authority kicked off its participation in the London Book Fair with a gala iftar on Sunday.

Held at the Royal Opera House in London, the event brought together a contingent of Emirati authors, including Dubai Abulhoul, diplomat Omar Saif Ghobash, veteran short story writer Mohammed Al Murr and poet Afra Atiq.

At the head of the United Arab Emirates delegation, the president of the International Association of Publishers, Bodour Al Qasimi, gave a mobilizing speech.

“Traditionally, Ramadan is a time when Muslims join their families and communities each evening to break their fast.

“So to me this evening represents a celebration of our publishing community and our mutual support for each other,” she said.

Al Qasimi went on to detail his experience leading the world’s leading publishing body amid the pandemic.

“Before taking on this role, I already knew that we were a diverse industry representing the cultural richness of the human family. But since becoming IPA President and through my extensive travels and engagements with our members in the world, I gained a greater appreciation for our diversity and differences,” she said.

“Listening to publishers from all corners of the world reassured me that the global industry would do very well during this crisis. This is not blind optimism, but a genuine understanding of the resilience and tenacity of publishers. »

It was a sentiment echoed by British actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah in his earlier speech.

“The written word has the power to resonate and motivate across time and across generations,” he said.

“Who, in this moment of global insecurity, hasn’t called or heard someone recite an ancient poem or nursery rhyme about the futility of war?

“Who in this culture-cancelling moment can cancel the great heart, mind, and spirit communicators of all ages? Culture and words matter.”

The iftar set the stage for the Sharjah Book Authority’s extensive program at the London Book Fair, which is held at the Olympia from Tuesday to Thursday.

With the emirate featured as part of the fair’s Market Focus, the authority hosted a number of talks and panels that shed light on the UAE’s thriving publishing industry.

Here are six key events:

Tuesday from 11:05 GMT at the Literary Translation Center

The Emirati diplomat and acclaimed author will talk about his 2018 book Letters to a young Muslim, a series of letters to his son about the complexities of life as a modern Muslim.

Ghobash will also discuss the importance of ensuring that Arabic literary works are translated internationally and made available around the world.

Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. at the English PEN Literary Fair

With 15 short story collections set in the UAE, veteran Emirati author Mohammed Al Murr will discuss the nuances of Emirati literature and how his work – with its mix of “realism, romance and sarcasm” – is informed by society modern Emirati.

Wednesday from 10 a.m. on the main stage

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - October 30, 2016: Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority during interview at Sharjah Exhibition Center.  (Pawan Singh/The National) For the weekend.  History of Malavika.  ID No - 24694 *** Local Caption *** PS3010- MY UAE06.jpg

A timely discussion on the future of printing and publishing in the face of the pandemic.

Sharjah Book Authority Chairman Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri will present Sharjah Publishing City’s efforts to ensure supply chain demands are met, as well as its print-on-demand feature.

Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. at the PEN English Literary Salon

The Emirati poet and bilingual spoken word artist will shed light on the burgeoning Emirati women’s writers’ collective United Chapters. She will also reveal some of the findings of her ongoing doctoral research on Instagram’s place in the Arab literary ecosystem.

Thursdays from 2:20 p.m. at the Literary Translation Center

Featuring Omar Ghobash and Arabic literature scholar and translator Marylyn Booth, the roundtable will not only explore the diversity of Arabic literature, but also topics and genres yet to be explored.

Speakers will also examine ways to publicize Arabic literary translation and its promise to reach a wider global audience.

Thursday from 7 p.m. at The Arab British Center

Emirati poet and spoken word artist Afra Atiq.  Photo: Alex Atack/The National

Poets Afra Atiq and Khalid Al Budoor will team up for an enchanting evening of performances featuring various genres, from spoken word to classical Arabic nabati poetry.

The evening will also include a round table on the literary form and its various evolutions.

Updated: 04 April 2022, 13:06

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