Dubai LitFest 2020 to entertain, inspire visitors - GulfToday

Dubai LitFest 2020 to entertain, inspire visitors


Festival director Ahlam Bolooki and other officials with a school choir at the launch function.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which takes place in Dubai from Feb.4-9, 2020, will feature a sizzling programme to entertain, inspire and shine a light on the world’s most pressing issues.

Hazzaa Al Mansoori, fresh from his first venture into space, will be the star attraction who will be sharing his experiences with the audience.

Bestselling fiction writers include ‘Rosie Project’ author Graeme Simsion, ‘Killing Eve’ creator Luke Jennings, and crime writer extraordinaire Linwood Barclay.

Among other big names at the forthcoming edition are TV presenter, cook and bestselling author Nadiya Hussain, explorer Ranulph Fiennes, visual artist and children’s book author Oliver Jeffers and TV astronomer and space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Unveiling the details in Dubai on Tuesday, festival director Ahlam Bolooki said, “With the stellar line-up for the 2020 festival, there is no better place to search for the answers, whatever your question may be. We have writers to entertain, inspire, challenge and excite people from all walks of life and of all ages. Join us at the festival because one thing we all have in common is the love of good conversations and great stories.”

The packed programme brings together the world’s leading authors, thinkers and opinion formers to find the answers to the big questions that occupy us all today. How can we save the planet? How can we argue with a racist? How can we find peace and happiness in a frantic world?

Many of the 2020 sessions, under an over-arching theme of Tomorrow, explore the topics of sustainability, spirituality and kindness to self and others, along with the LitFest’s ever popular genres covering literary, popular and crime fiction, business, history, poetry, science, food, adventure and exploration and more.

Award-winning novelists abound, with Tayari Jones – winner of the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction for ‘An American Marriage’, Jokha Al Harthi – author of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize winner‘Celestial Bodies’, and Hoda Barakat, who won the 2019 IPAF for her most recent novel, ‘Night Mail’.

There is also Omaima Al Khamis, a Saudi Arabian writer who won the 2018 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for her novel ‘Voyage of the Cranes in the Cities of Aga’ and 2018 Booker prize nominated Esi Edugayan for ‘Washington Black’, the amazing story of a slave’s bid for freedom.

Mohammed Hanif, who won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Novel for ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes,’ will also be here with his latest novel ‘Red Birds,’ a satire on American military intervention which lays bare the absurdities and monstrosities of war.

The Festival’s atmospheric signature event, Deserts Stanzas, opens the Festival with an enthralling line-up featuring poets from the USA, Ireland, Portugal, UK and UAE. The Murder Mystery Dinner also makes a triumphant return with Luke Jennings’ spine-tingling psychopath who takes centre stage as we find out who is ‘Killing Villanelle.’

Education is at the heart of the Festival and the Education Days, Student Sessions, School Visits and Children’s Competitions last year reached more than 30,000 students across the country.

The Festival sees the culmination of the student writing competitions, with winners announced in special ceremonies for the Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition, the Taaleem Award for poetry, the Chevron Readers’ Cup quiz competition and the Emirates NBD Poetry for All performance poetry competition. The winners of the School Librarian of the Year Award will also be honoured at a special event.

A highlight of every Festival is the announcement of the winner of the Montegrappa Writing Prize for adults. The Prize has already seen eight previous winners and runners-up receive international book deals and become published authors.

Ending on a high note, the Festival concludes with a charity finale event – an extravaganza of music, poetry and readings in collaboration with Dubai Cares, in support of their programmes for child refugees across our region, and featuring Nujeen Mustafa, whose story of her escape from Syria is told in ‘Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo.’

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