Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Sharjah International Book Fair: 7 unmissable events for the last weekend

Novelist Vikram Seth and motivational speaker Robin Sharma are among the star attractions for this weekend

We are well over a week into the 38th Sharjah International Book Fair and enthusiasm levels remain sky high – the crowds show no sign of parting. We have already heard from literary heavyweights, including Orhan Pamuk and Jeet Thayil, and listened in on discussions about everything from the African novel to the role of Emirati women in parliament.

Mark Manson, the author who describes himself as the “anti-self-help guy”, explained how we can lead a more fulfilling life, while adventurer Jordan Wylie, who has done charity runs in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somaliland, reminded us of what we can achieve when we really knuckle down. It has been challenging, invigorating and uplifting.

But there is still much more to enjoy. The second weekend of the book fair is packed with big-name speakers, so make your way to Expo Centre Sharjah for another round of literary treats.

1) Launching Ali Najem’s Book

When: Thursday, November 7 (6.00pm)

Where: Intellectual Hall

The radio DJ, whose hugely popular show on Kuwaiti station Marina FM has made him one of the most recognisable media figures in the Gulf, launches his book, Khayyal, at the Sharjah International Book Fair. There will be queues around the block to meet the man with more three million Instagram followers, so don’t be late – and bring a pen to get your copy signed.

2) A Poem’s Heartbeat

When: Thursday, November 7 (7.00pm)

Where: Cultural Cafe

The Cultural Cafe is one of the best places at the fair to hang out and watch the world go by. But it also hosts an intriguing programme of smaller events. Faraj Al Dhufairi moderates a discussion with distinguished Arab poets Ahmed Al Akhras and Sajida Al Moussawi about the different structures of Arabic verse, why some of these are more popular than others, and how rhythm affects our interpretation of a poem.

3) Gulshan Grover: Meet the ‘Bad Man’ of Bollywood

When: Thursday, November 7 (8.30pm)

Where: Intellectual Hall

Gulshan Grover has appeared in more than 400 films in both Bollywood and Hollywood, including Sohni Mahiwal (1984), Sir (1993), for which he was nominated for Best Villain at the Filmfare Awards, and The Man from Kathmandu (2019). He is here to talk about Bad Man, the authorised biography of his life. Grover was born and raised in a small Indian town but moved to Mumbai in the 1970s to pursue a career in acting. He ended up taking on a series of villainous roles, most notably in Ram Lakhan (1989). Bad Man reveals a softer side to Grover, who opens up about the difficulties of living up to a fearsome on-screen reputation.

4) Stories of Humanity

When: Friday, November 8 (7.15pm)

Where: Discussion Forum 1

Sudanese author Leila Aboulela and Lebanese novelist Mohammed Abi Samra explore some of the challenges faced by immigrant writers. What stories influence them? Who are they writing for? Is there a pressure to be a certain “type” of immigrant writer? Aboulela and Abi Samra will attempt to unpick these knotty questions and many more besides.

5) Ibtihaj Muhammad: Meet the Olympic Gold Medallist

When: Friday, November 8 (7.30pm)

Where: Intellectual Hall

In 2016, fencing star Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first female Muslim-American athlete to win an Olympic medal, as well as the first Muslim-American to wear a hijab while competing for Team USA. Her beautiful book, Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream, traces her story from Maplewood, New Jersey, where she discovered fencing at the age of 12, to the very pinnacle of her sport. It is inspiring stuff, matched by Muhammad’s dignity in confronting the bigotry she has endured throughout her career because of her faith.

6) An Evening with Vikram Seth

When: Friday, November 8 (8.30pm)

Where: Intellectual Hall

The Indian novelist and poet is the star attraction of the second weekend at the book fair. He is best known, of course, for his monumental 1993 novel, A Suitable Boy, but he will be speaking here about the full spectrum of his life and career, including growing up in Calcutta, studying at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, his relationship with his parents, and his extraordinary contribution to Indian literature. If you only attend one event this weekend, make it this one.

7) Robin Sharma: the Leadership Guru

When: Saturday, November 9 (4.30pm)

Where: Ball Room

Robin Sharma, author of the bestselling The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari and The 5am Club, is a leadership expert with 15 million book sales to back up his claims. An electrifying speaker, Sharma will reveal the tricks he uses to help lead a more fulfilled, successful and spiritual life. The perfect way to sign off from the Sharjah International Book Fair.

The Sharjah International Book Fair runs until Saturday, November 9. More information is available at sibf.com

Updated: November 6, 2019 02:59 PM

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