Sharjah celebrates female writers in Turin - GulfToday

Sharjah celebrates female writers in Turin


Emirati writers sign their books for Italian fans.

Sharjah has gone beyond the canons to highlight the presence of women writers in Arab, Italian and International literature in a riveting discussion the emirate hosted as part of the ‘Sharjah Guest of Honour’ programme at the Turin International Book Fair (TIBF 2019).

Before a packed audience, Emirati poet Sheikha Al Mutairi and Italian author Valeria Parrella led the discussion session titled, ‘Beyond the Canons: Genealogies of Women Writers,’ moderated by Italian writer Lucia Sorbera. Despite the fact that the reading of women writers in school or university falls considerably short when compared to their male counterparts, and that the history of literature has often been overtaken by a largely male presence, the session’s speakers asserted that the presence of women writers in their respective cultures and in those around the world is neither recent nor an exception.

From poetry to novels and academic and scientific writing, women’s writings have encompassed all these areas and more, and influenced societies, they said.

A historical contrast between the Italian and Arab cultural scene was presented with their observations. While Parrella said that women in Italy and Europe in the earlier centuries were isolated from the cultural scene, Al Mutairi noted Arab women were always present and active in this domain.  Talking about her poetic journey, Sheikha Al Mutairi said: “The first time I found poetry was when I snuck into my father’s office and chanced upon renowned Arab poets. I started to recite them, just like songs, in school.

“Then, I read them to my family claiming I wrote them because I identified with them so deeply. Finally, when I began writing my own poetry, my father supported me tremendously by introducing me to vast poem collections, some of which he borrowed from his poet friends.”

Parrella observed that women’s literature is often misunderstood as a mouthpiece for voicing their concerns, and stressed that the reader needs to go deeper into the themes and messages the content carries. It often reflects the spirit of giving, nurturing and empathy, which is the essence of creative work, whether produced by men or women.

She also briefed the audience on Italy’s literary movement, explaining that its birth was seen in folk tales, poems, and other verbal traditions.

With time, they began to be documented. Parrella asserted that the oral aspect of literature is central, even today, as it is an effective tool to convey the feelings of a poet or a writer lyrically through the act of telling – revealing the layers of meanings in the text through voice modulations and human expression.

As for her writing journey, Parrella explained that at school she had difficulty expressing her ability to write. She felt awkward when her teacher made pupils stand on their desks and read aloud for other students. Despite these challenges, and not enough support from parents, she decided to focus on literature and writing.


The spotlight at Turin International Book Fair (TIBF) 2019, turned to the Sharjah Pavilion on Sunday, as visitors flocked to have Italian translations of works by select Emirati writers, intellectuals and poets, writes Sohaila Ahmed, Staff Reporter.

Through Sharjah’s participation as guest of honour at TIBF 2019, the emirate has taken the opportunity to translate 57 Emirati book titles into Italian for the first time.    

The cultural initiative is the result of a Sharjah Book Authority-Emirates Writers Union collaboration, and seeks to translate valuable works from Emirati writers into one of the most important languages of the world.

The Italian translations are a new milestone in Sharjah’s journey to bring people and cultures together through books.

All these 57 titles were also presented to Indian readers this January during Sharjah’s participation as guest of honour at New Delhi World Book Fair 2019. French versions of the titles flew to Paris last year, when the emirate participated as guest of honour at Paris International Book Fair. Sharjah presented the titles in Portuguese to Sao Paulo International Book Fair 2018 visitors too.

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