x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Abu Dhabi book fair opens 23rd edition with write stuff

Writers from the region and beyond, including the US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, were at the opening of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Visitors to the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair opening yesterday, which featured a speech by the US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey and a workshop for children’s authors. The fair runs until April 29.  Christopher Pike / The National
Visitors to the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair opening yesterday, which featured a speech by the US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey and a workshop for children’s authors. The fair runs until April 29. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // Big-name authors from the region and beyond helped to open the 23rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair yesterday.

Formally opened by Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of the organising body, the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (ADTCA), the first day belonged to award prize winners.

Fresh from being crowned winner of the sixth International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi took to the discussion sofa to shed further light on his winning work, The Bamboo Stalk.

Alsanousi said the novel, which follows the life of a Kuwaiti-Filipino youth struggling to belong, should strike a chord with readers in the Arabian Gulf.

"It is really about how we look at others," he explained. "Sometimes the best way to find out about ourselves is in how we treat others. When we investigate that we will see some things that are negative, whether we accept that or not."

Earlier, the US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey discussed poetry as another form for self reflection.

The Mississippi author, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2007, spoke to a packed crowd of students from the American Community School of Abu Dhabi.

Trethewey's book-fair stop was part of a wider UAE tour, which included workshops in schools and universities.

"The other day I was giving a reading at the Sharjah Ladies Club, and it was great to speak to the local community, who obviously value poetry so much," she said.

"Because it was part of their culture, it was a great way to connect with them."

The next generation of local literary stars were also on display, courtesy of the Made in UAE project.

Organised by the UAE Board on Books for Young People and the German cultural centre, the Goethe Institute, the initiative had aspiring Emirati children's authors take part in a workshop led by the celebrated German author Ute Krause.

It resulted in two stories by Noura Al Khoori being snapped up by publishers, to be released this year.

As part of the panel on the GCC Stage, the Abu Dhabi resident and mother-of-three praised the project, saying there was a dearth of quality of children's literature from the Arab world.

"A lot of the time these books have a tone where the author is admonishing or advising the reader, and children just don't like that," Al Khoori said.

"With this project, we hope to kick-start the local children's book industry and being part of the Abu Dhabi Book Fair is important as it gives it profile."

The event will run until Monday next week at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

sasaeed@thenational.ae