Lead­ing in­ter­na­tional au­thors top the bill at this year’s event

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The Abu Dhabi In­ter­na­tional Book Fair will wel­come a host of au­thors as part of its thriv­ing Cul­tural Pro­gramme.

Given that China is the Guest Coun­try of Hon­our, it is par­tic­u­larly en­cour­ag­ing to see so many ex­cit­ing Chi­nese nov­el­ists com­ing to the UAE this week.

Pos­si­bly the most well-known is Mai Jia. The English trans­la­tions of his two slow-burn­ing thrillers, De­coded (also avail­able in Ara­bic) and In the Dark, have made him a best­seller out­side of China too.

When we re­viewed the lat­ter in 2015, we mar­velled at Jia’s “im­mense read­abil­ity”. He will be tak­ing part in a book sign­ing, as well as a ses­sion about Chi­nese Lit­er­a­ture in Cin­ema.

Other Chi­nese au­thors of note in­clude mul­ti­ple-award win­ner Yu Hua, whose five nov­els and other col­lec­tions have made him a cel­e­brated fig­ure in Italy and France, Xu Zechen and Liu Zhenyun, whose satir­i­cal writ­ing put him in the run­ning for the No­bel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture, though Mai Jia Far­rar, Straus and Giroux so far he has had to make do with the Chi­nese equiv­a­lent – the Mao Dun Lit­er­a­ture Prize.

The In­ter­na­tional Prize for Ara­bic Fic­tion is tra­di­tion­ally handed out dur­ing the week the fair be­gins, so it’s good to see a smat­ter­ing of cur­rent and former nom­i­nees at the fair.

Emi­nent Kuwaiti novelist Is­mail Fahd Is­mail will talk about the im­pact of tele­vi­sion on novel writ­ing and vice versa on Mon­day, by which time he’ll know if he has won the Ipaf for his book Al-Sa­bil­iat.

We spoke to Iraqi writer Muhsin Al Ramli last week about the fab­u­lous English trans­la­tion of The Pres­i­dent’s Gar­dens, which was longlisted for Ipaf in 2013. He was fas­ci­nat­ing, so his two ses­sions are bound to prove pop­u­lar. The UAE’s Reem Al Ka­mali, who took part in Ipaf’s 2015 nadwa (writ­ers’ work­shop), will talk about the rise of the fem­i­nine voice in the Emi­rati nar­ra­tive scene. Round­ing off the Ipaf-af­fil­i­ated tal­ent, Mo­ham­mad Ra­bie, Su­danese novelist Amir Taj Al Sir and an­other Emi­rati, the 2017 longlis­tee Sul­tan Al Amimi, are all sure to be in­ter­est­ing com­pany. On the sub­ject of prize-winning au­thors, Egyp­tian Adel Es­mat, who took home last year’s Naguib Mah­fouz Medal for Lit­er­a­ture, will be at the fair to­day to talk about whether lit- er­a­ture can be uni­ver­sal and will also sign copies of his books.

Moroc­can poet and writer Ab­dur­ra­heem Khas­sar and UAE res­i­dent Samer Abou Hawwash will take part in the fair, with the lat­ter talk­ing about trans­la­tor Bas­sam Ha­j­jar on Tues­day.


Photo by Ja­copo Raule / Getty Im­ages

Chi­nese writer Mai Jia.

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