I’m popping in during a busy time to mention how excited I am that in just three days, I will be at the airport, on my way to the United Arab Emirates for the Sharjah International Book Fair.
I’m incredibly honoured to be invited to this prestigious event. While Book Fairs are usually very focused on publishers and agents buying and selling publishing rights, the Sharjah International Book Fair has a significant cultural program that runs alongside the rights fair, and there are 150 authors from round the world attending, with a wide range of events open to the public including panel discussions, readings and book signings. Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates, is passionate about books and hopes to promote both cultural exchange and understanding as well as Sharjah’s own heritage and contemporary creativity. The Book Fair is strongly supported by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, the UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and by The Department of Culture & Information.
It’s the first time Australia has participated in the Book Fair, and two other Australian authors are going – Kim Wilkins (who also writes as Kimberley Freeman) and Tony Cavanaugh. Kim and I will be there at the same time and are hoping to do some sightseeing together if there’s time.
I am very much looking forward to the trip, and am deeply appreciative of the invitation and the opportunity to attend. There’s a wonderful rich history of Arabic literature and a thriving contemporary literary culture, and that will be celebrated at the Book Fair. But there will also be authors and publishers from around the world, with many coming this year from Pakistan and India, and also from Europe, other parts of Asia, and North America. So many cultures, so many stories, so many voices – it’s going to be a fascinating and wonderful experience!
I will spend five days in Sharjah and among the events I will be involved will be a panel discussion on What Inspires our Voice: Women Writing for Women, with Iraqi writer Hawra Al-Nadawi, Emirati novelist Sara Al Jarwan, and fellow Australian novelist Kimberley Freeman.
I don’t know how much internet access I will have while I’m away, but I will try to post some photos and blog updates if I can. In the meantime, here’s an image of Sharjah city from Wikipedia, so you can picture me there!