Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 25 September 2020

12 talks not to be missed at Dubai's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

From 'An American Marriage's' Tayari Jones to 'The Book Thief’s' Markus Zusak, here are the author talks that are not to be missed at this year's festival

The Emirates Literature Foundation will release a series of filmed panel discussion from this year's festival on its YouTube channel. Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
The Emirates Literature Foundation will release a series of filmed panel discussion from this year's festival on its YouTube channel. Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is in full swing. The writing workshops and masterclasses already kicked off earlier this week, but the bulk of author talks and panels are scheduled to take place over the coming weekend.

There are more than 150 international and local authors headed for the festival, including An American Marriage's Tayari Jones, The Runaways author Fatima Bhutto and The Book Thief’s Markus Zusak. Oman's Man Booker International Prize winner, Jokha Alharthi, is also on the bill.

If you're heading to the festival this weekend, we've picked out some of the talks that are not to be missed ...

Nujeen Mustafa, a 21 year-old Kurdish-Syrian activist, will be at this year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to discuss her experiences as a student adjusting to life in a foreign country and as a tireless advocate for disabled refugees and those who remain in Syria.  Daniel Roland/AFP
Nujeen Mustafa will be at this year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Daniel Roland/AFP

First up is Nujeen Mustafa, a 21-year-old Kurdish-Syrian who gained international attention after travelling more than 5,000km to Germany in a wheelchair, fleeing the Syrian Civil War. The refugee activist, who has cerebral palsy, was listed as one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2018. Mustafa will discuss her experiences as a student adjusting to life in a foreign country and as an advocate for disabled refugees and those who remain in Syria. Her talk will take place at 6pm on Thursday, February 6, in the Al Amwaj room at the InterContinental Hotel in Festival City.

Hoda Barakat has won several prestigious literary awards, the most recent of which was the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2019 for The Night Mail. Through five different letters, Barakat introduces her celebrated novel’s characters and the immense change they endure overnight. The characters are foreigners, either immigrants by choice or forced by circumstance to leave their countries. The Lebanese novelist will be at the festival to discuss The Night Mail and its characters. Her talk is scheduled to take place at 6pm on Thursday, February 6, in the Al Baraha 1 hall.

Jeetendr Sehdev reveals the six new rules for success in today’s social media reality. Sehdev is a New York Times best-selling author and has been branded "the most relevant voice of the social media era". Sehdev will discuss why the old marketing strategies are no longer working and how the route to Kim Kardashian-sized success is through exposing your flaws, vulnerability and personal authenticity. His talk will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday, February 6, in Al Ras 2.

Author and journalist Fatima Bhutto is giving two talks at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Getty
Author and journalist Fatima Bhutto is giving two talks at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Getty

Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto will host a talk about her new book, The Runaways. Her second novel explores three young Muslim men's journey into radicalization. It poses provocative questions on what attracts young people to extremism. Bhutto’s talk will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday, February 6 in Al Amwaj room.

Investigative photo-journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Hunter entered North Korea just before the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il. His record gives an extraordinary account of daily life in one of the least-known states on Earth. His ‘North Korea Exposed’ talk will take place at 10am on Friday, February 7, in the Al Khayma stage.

Man Booker finalist Esi Edugyan’s new book Washington Black is inspired by the true story of an eleven year-old slave who finds himself pursuing a promise of freedom. The novel takes readers from the scorching cane field of 19th century Barbados to lands he could never have dreamed of. Hear the author's take on creating an unforgettable piece of historical fiction at 12pm on Friday, February 7, in the Al Khayma room.

Sir Chris Bonington and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, two of the world’s most celebrated explorers, will take to the stage to share their extraordinary experiences of adventure at the furthest points of the Earth. Bonington started climbing in 1951 at the age of 16, and still does to this day. His many achievements include the first successful climb of Everest’s south-west face and the south face of Annapurna. Fiennes has been described as “the world’s greatest living explorer” according to the Guinness Book of Records, and is one of only two men, together with the late Charles Burton, to have travelled around the Earth’s circumpolar surface. Their talk will be held at 6pm on Friday, February 7, at Al Ras 2.

Tayari Jones, author of 'An American Marriage', will speak at the 2020 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
Tayari Jones, author of 'An American Marriage', will speak at the 2020 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Among the award-winning names on the programme is Tayari Jones, who won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction for An American Marriage. The novel focuses on the relationship between a middle-class African-American couple and won the praise of Oprah Winfrey. Jones will talk about her seminal work on Friday, February 7 at 4pm on Al Ras 1 stage. Man Booker International Prize winner Jokha Alharthi, meanwhile, will be on Al Baraha 1 stage at the same time, where she'll discuss Celestial Bodies and her writing process.

Norwegian master of Nordic noir Jo Nesbo will explore his fascinating career and discover the fate of detective Harry Hole in Knife, Nesbo’s newest work, which may be his darkest and deadliest adventure yet. Jo Nesbo in Conversation will take place at 6pm on Saturday, February 8 in Al Baraha 2 room.

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri waves before boarding a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station. EPA
Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri waves before boarding a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station. EPA

Fans who followed Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri's journey to the International Space Station last year will be able to hear the cosmic traveller talk about his experience, as well as the future of the UAE space programme, in Al Baraha 1 room on Saturday, February 8 at 1pm.

After a thirteen-year wait, Markus Zusak released his sweeping new novel, Bridge of Clay. It was well worth the wait as the New York Times called it “the kind of book that can be life-changing.” The storyteller who gave us the bestseller The Book Thief is back to tell the tale of five brothers coming of age, and what it takes to build a family back together in a house with no rules. He will be discussing his novel at 8pm on Saturday, February 8, in the Al Ras 1 room.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will take place at the InterContinental Hotel until February 9.

Updated: February 6, 2020 05:30 PM

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