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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 August 2018

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature announces full line-up

Expect a bumper bill of authors, poets and illustrators for the 10th edition, writes Saeed Saeed

William Dalrymple. Ulf Andersen / Getty Images
William Dalrymple. Ulf Andersen / Getty Images

William Dalrymple is among the literary heavyweights rostered for next year’s 10th edition of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

The acclaimed Scottish author and historian headlines the latest announcement of guests for the March event, which includes many prize-winning writers and poets. In addition to discussing his books, which specialise in the history and art of India and the Muslim world, Dalrymple will arrive in Dubai on the back of his latest work, Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond, which looks the political significance behind the famous gemstone.

He will be joined by an array of big personalities, including Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner and economist, Muhammad Yunus; UAE ambassador to Russia, Omar Saif Ghobash, who released last year’s acclaimed memoir Letters to a Young Muslim; and Indian politician and master orator Shashi Tharoor.

Next year’s edition will also feature a solid list of regional and international novelists: the Syrian author and 2013 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature winner Khaled Khalifa (No Knives in the Kitchens of this City), British author and 2017 Man Booker Prize nominee Fiona Mozley; and Singaporean-American author Kevin Kwan, whose successhful 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians is now to be adapted into a Hollywood Film.

The literary festival is also renowned for a strong list of thriller and crime writers, and the 2018 edition will be no exception. Canadian author Shari Lapena will make her UAE debut to discuss her big-selling domestic noir titles The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House.

Fans of cool Icelandic crime fiction will welcome the arrival of Yrsa Sigurdardottir, whose edgy series of novels follow the attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir; while the UK’s Peter James will discuss his fictional detective Roy Grace.

With the recent news of the forthcoming British royal wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, the literary session featuring Andrew Morton, biographer of Diana, should gain a lot of interest.

He will be joined by other memoirists, including Jane Hawking, whose 2007 book detailing her past relationship with renowned physicist and husband Stephen Hawking, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, was adapted into the 2014 award-winning film The Theory of Everything.

Another batch of zany and witty authors will make up the festival’s children’s programme. The list is led by festival favourite and Roald Dahl Funny Prize-winning writer Philip Ardagh, and also features veteran Egyptian author and illustrator Walid Taher; British Scallywag illustrator Korky Paul; and the 2016 winner of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, Yara Bamieh, of Palestine. Foodies will also savour appearances by Chinese-American celebrity chef Ken Hom; Indian food specialist Madhur Jaffrey; and Egyptian-British writer Claudia Roden, who is behind a series of revered Middle Eastern cookery books.

A lot of poetry fan-favourites are also set to make a return. The flamboyant British-Ethiopian author Lemn Sissay will be on his way to Dubai, alongside the celebrated British author and poetry professor for Oxford University, Simon Armitage; the graceful Guyanese poet and novelist Grace Nichols; and Emirati spoken word artist Afra Atiq.

They will join the group of star authors announced in October: bestselling thriller writer and current James Bond novelist, Anthony Horowitz; Saudi Arabian author and winner of this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction Mohammed Hasan Alwan (A Small Death); Palestinian author and poet Ibrahim Nasrallah; and Saroo Brierley, the Australian-Indian businessman whose novel about his life (A Long Way from Home) inspired the 2016 film Lion.

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will take place from March 1 to 10 at InterContinental Dubai Festival City, Dubai. Tickets for sessions are now on sale, from www.emirateslitfest.com

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