Leading international authors top the bill at this year’s event
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.
Chinese writer Mai Jia.