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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Best quips and bits of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

The sixth Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which brought more than 150 writers, thinkers and speakers to Dubai to celebrate the written word, has wrapped up for another year.
In his opening address, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Cultue, Youth and Community Development, questioned whether the theme of the sixth Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, metamorphosis, while reflecting changes in literature at large could also be alluding to changes in the publishing industry.  Jeff Topping / For The National / March 4, 2014
In his opening address, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Cultue, Youth and Community Development, questioned whether the theme of the sixth Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, metamorphosis, while reflecting changes in literature at large could also be alluding to changes in the publishing industry. Jeff Topping / For The National / March 4, 2014

The sixth Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which brought more than 150 writers, thinkers and speakers to Dubai to celebrate the written word, has wrapped up for another year. We look at what we’ve learnt

The festival of change

With the UAE cultural and physical landscape experiencing rapid development, festival organisers deemed it fitting that metamorphosis be the overarching theme of the festival. In the opening address on Tuesday, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak called transformation the hallmark of today’s publishing industry. “All of you here esteem the written word and love books, so that means you also appreciate irony,” said the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development. “The irony of this festival lurks in the theme of metamorphosis. The change theme looms large in literature. But might that theme allude to the changes in the publishing industry?” The evocative question was tackled in the festival, from all angles, by novelists, poets and publishers.

Alia Mamdouh: Create your routine

The Iraqi novelist and essayist Alia Mamdouh rubbished suggestions of a best method to write. “You should find your own way,” she said. “There is no certain routine to adopt. All I can say is that you have to write on a daily basis until you find your very own rituals. Writing is like a faith, in that you have to respect it. You are either a believer or not.”

Peter James: Roy Grace is coming to television

Fans of the successful British crime author Peter James should relish the television debut of his much loved sleuth Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. The character, who appeared in nearly a dozen of James’s bestsellers, is set to appear in a forthcoming crime series by the British broadcaster ITV next year. “One thing I can say is that it will be researched,” he said. “For this series, I made it part of the contract to have a consultant on board to make sure all aspects of the policing and investigation are correct.”

Jeremy Paxman pulled no punches

What you see is what you get. The celebrated and pugnacious British journalist was in vintage form when it came to addressing fellow authors or questions from the crowd. In a Thursday session, Paxman duelled with the Indian author Pankaj Mishra about the British Empire. While in his own session about the First World War, he let fly about Australia’s heroic version of the Gallipoli Campaign. “I am sick of it,” he said. “It’s a myth.”

Christina Lamb

The British journalist who co-authored the memoir of the Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, described the teenager as well aware of her global fame. “She would be the first to tell you that there are many other girls with stories like her, but for whatever reason, her story caught the world’s imagination,” she said. “She knows that she has a platform now to spread her message far and wide.” Lamb said one of Yousafzai’s biggest supporters has been U2’s frontman Bono. “He sent her a new iPod full of U2 songs. I remember her asking who the band was.”

New stars are born

As well as established authors, the festival is also on the lookout for the next local and regional best-seller through its Montegrappa First Fiction Competition. In its second year, the competition is aimed at unpublished novelists. All participants had to include a synopsis and the first 2,000 words of a manuscript. Dubai’s Michelle Martin won first prize with her tale of a Filipino maid falsely accused of murdering her employer’s infant. Martin will jet off to this year’s London Book Fair for a lunch with the top UK literary agent Luigi Bonomi. “I think the festival as a whole is a great resource for people in the UAE who want to write,” she said. “This is because its programme of competitions and creative writing courses is getting broader every year.”

Expect next year’s festival to be even bigger

That’s the promise from the festival director Isobel Abulhoul. She said that 27 authors have accepted invitations to attend next year. “I have been working on next year’s event for the last six months and all I can say is that it is going to be very exciting,” she said. “The festival is mature now and everyone understands what to expect – and that is the unexpected.”

sasaeed@thenational.ae

Updated: March 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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