Egyptian novelist Ahmed Murad and American author A.J. Finn at a panel discussion moderated by Nada Al Shibaani (L) in the Sharjah Book Fair.
The 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) has crossed a major milestone on behalf of the Emirati and Arab cultural world, as well as the region’s publishing industry, earning the title of the world's largest book fair for the first time since its inception in 1982.
This global recognition follows the success of one of the book fair’s professional programmes – the SIBF Publishers Conference – whose 11th edition held in the emirate in the leadup to the book fair surpassed every international book fair held this year to attract the participation of 546 publishers and literary agents from 83 countries looking to network, matchmake and do business with each other.
As the global publishing industry looks towards boosting efforts for its post-Covid recovery, the multitude of commercial prospects presented by SIBF’s robust professional programme has proved to be even more desirable by industry stakeholders for both business interactions and knowledge exchange. Furthermore, the volume of participation in the SIBF Publishers Conference has played a key role in further diversifying the type and quantity of content that publishers have brought to this leading international book fair.
A view of the Expo Centre, where Sharjah Book Fair held.
Held under the theme 'There's always a right book', SIBF has been leading international efforts to enable the publishing industry chart its post-pandemic recovery and earned global recognition for organising the 39th edition successfully during the pandemic. This new record reflects the fruition of SIBF’s efforts and a qualitative step towards the full recovery of the publishing and creative industries worldwide.
Commenting on the achievement, Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said: “The new SIBF record is a local, regional and international achievement that could not have been realised without the continuing support of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, who firmly believes that building strong societies and civilisations can only be achieved through knowledge and books. The world-renowned event has proved its resilience by bringing together 1,632 publishers from 83 countries to exhibit 15 million books, which includes 1.3 million unique titles, of which 110,000 are making their SIBF debut.”
He added: "This accomplishment follows a series of recent achievements by Sharjah and SIBF. They include being accorded Guest of Honour status at several international book fairs, including Paris, Moscow, Madrid, New Delhi and São Paulo; and organising the biggest international event held during the pandemic last year. This new triumph is the highlight of the 40th edition, and a fulfilment of the promise we showed at the inaugural edition of SIBF in 1982.”
EGYPTIAN WRITER AHMED MURAD AND AMERICAN A J FINN:
Egyptian novelist Ahmed Murad and American author A.J. Finn revealed the bag of tricks thriller writers reach into to pen stories that keep their readers hooked till the last page at a compelling panel discussion titled ‘Create the Thriller’ at the 40th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). The panel was moderated by Nada Al Shibaani.
Speaking about the challenges in crafting stories that hold readers’ attention, Ahmed Murad said: “In this era, when cybercrimes are commonplace and suspense has become a part of readers’ lives, it is very difficult to surprise readers with regular plotlines. That is why it is crucial for writers to concentrate on and amplify every small detail. It is a big challenge, but it is worth the risk.”
Murad pointed out that essentially thrillers and suspense novels succeed by manipulating the minds of readers who are willing to embark on a journey into an unknown world. That is the reason opinion polls always reveal that thriller novels top the list of readers’ choices, he opined.
A general view of the Sharjah Book Fair.
“Every person has something which is worth writing, but before penning their idea they must conduct a lot of research, which is like quicksand that pulls the writer in deeper with each move. The successful thriller author is one who knows how and when to escape from the quicksand at the right time,” he said, adding, “Thriller authors write for fun and what they write is not necessarily right or factual. Their intention is to make the reader feel insecure.”
For his part, American novelist A.J. Finn, author of the bestselling The Woman in the Window, which was adapted into a blockbuster movie, linked his writing thrillers to the state of his mental health during adolescence and early youth. He revealed that he had suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, and this had influenced him to choose the thriller genre.
Once, while still suffering from depression, Finn had seen a woman looking out of a window from across his apartment. He said the sadness he saw on the woman's face sparked his imagination and that coupled with his psychological state, resulted in The Woman in the Window.
He emphasised that thriller writers do not necessarily have to experience what they describe in their novels. "The joy associated with writing thrillers is the driving force behind the author. This genre requires extensive research before the writing commences. Furthermore, real-life events and characters add value to a story of this genre. A successful thriller would persuade readers to suspend their belief, become a part of the story and tie up the loose ends in their minds.”
Sheikha Bodour encouraged Arab publishers to adopt a forward-looking approach integrated with sustainable business models to fully transform their vision, mindsets and businesses to ready themselves for operating at a global level.
In her keynote address at the fair’s Professional Publishers Programme, Sheikha Bodour commended its focus on translations which, she said, can play a key role in boosting global collaboration between publishers and within the arger publishing ecosystem.
The gesture reflects the Sharjah Ruler’s keenness to promote locally-produced literature within the UAE’s book industry by supporting Emirati writers and intellectuals, and ultimately enhancing their presence in libraries.
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