PODCAST

The Boundless Book Club

Emirates Literature Foundation

From Russian tragedies to Australian comedies, via Emirati slam poetry and Saudi science fiction, our appetite for words knows no bounds. In our day jobs at the Emirates Literature Foundation, you'd normally find us planning the next Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, but the rest of the time we're guessing whodunnit, debating the ultimate feel-good novel, or reading the stacks of books that line our office walls. As we are here in Dubai, one of the best connected cities in the world, we aim to bring you recommendations for books from all over the world. We are joined by a different writer in every episode so stay tuned. Want to get in touch? Send us a message on comms@emirateslitfest.com

The Secrets and Lies episode with Sophie HannahThe New for 2022 episodeThe Live Your Best Life episode
It's the end of January. We don't know how it came around so soon, but it did, and the pressure is on for that fresh slate feeling - and books are here to help. On this episode of The Boundless Book Club Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle are joined by the Emirates Literature Foundation's very own Maham Uzair to recommend four books to help you live your #bestlife, in a realistic, genuinely useful and practical way all with authors who are appearing at this year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. No quick fixes here, thankyouverymuch. Books mentioned in this episode: The Doctor's Kitchen by Dr Rupy Aujla Another cookbook you'll buy and abandon on the shelf? Not so with Dr Rupy who knows a thing or two about busy schedules as an NHS GP. The path to a healthier life is through small consistent changes so even if you don't make a single recipe from his books, the guiding principles and ingredient lists are the arsenal you need when you're not sure what to add to that mystery curry you're making when you get home, or what to buy on your next grocery shop. The Cracks that Let the Light In by Jessica Moxham This recommendation is inspiration fodder for absolutely anyone, especially parents who need a guiding light in dark times. As Jess herself says - "This is a book about what happened when it felt like my life had fallen apart and how I put it back together. It’s about family, love and how to be happy despite your life turning out nothing like you planned." and in these uncertain times, Jess' story is all the more relevant. Twelve and a Half by Gary Vaynerchuk In his latest bestselling book, GaryVee shares how he has embraced twelve and a half key skills to become a better leader. Not only is Gary Vaynerchuk a serial entrepreneur and one of the world’s leading marketing experts, he is also the author of six bestselling business books, including most recently Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success. He is the chairman of VaynerX and CEO of the media agency VaynerMedia. Languages of Loss by Sasha Bates After the unexpected death of her husband Bill, Sasha draws on her years of psychotherapy work in this book to make sense of her own personal experience of grief. Wherever you’re at in your own relationship with grief and loss, this book is a practical exploration of grappling with difficult and overwhelming emotions, and is an excellent and necessary reminder that it's ok to feel what you're feeling.   About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
29-01-2022
29 mins
The Cheap Thrills episode
On this episode the LitFest team are talking about the books that might not get the full page erudite book reviews by venerated critics, but what they do get is a 5/5 for unputdownability. And luckily, these authors are all coming to the Emirates LItFest is February. Authors and books include: My Heart is a Chainsaw, by Stephen Graham Jones Nivea Serrao recommends this beautifully written horror novel. Sleepyhead, by Mark Billingham Funny and horrific in equal measures, this is the first outing for DI Tom Thorne, and the start of a 17 book series of bestsellers. The Hunting Party, by Lucy Foley A snowed-in murder mystery with toxic friendships? Yes please, says Andrea. The Bridgerton series, by Julia Quinn You may have seen the series, but the books are, as always, better. Each book has a different sibling as protagonist, and Nivea particularly recommends The Viscount Who Loved Me. Yesterday, by Felicia Yap This speculative fiction and crime mash-up asks, how do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday? About us: Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and once scored 82 points in one move in Scrabble. Best day ever. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
05-01-2022
20 mins
The Best Books of 2021 episode, with Annabel Kantaria, AKA Anna Kent
Toxic friendships, septuagenarian sleuths, solar powered robots, and talking religious cats are just a few of the topics addressed on this episode of the Boundless Book Club as Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle are joined by author Annabel Kantaria to discuss the best books published this year, before moving on to discuss Annabel's own 2021 publication under the pseudonym Anna Kent: domestic thriller The House of Whispers. About Annabel Kantaria: Annabel has five published novels, with the latest, The House of Whispers, written under the pseudonym Anna Kent. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology, has worked as an editor for a woman's magazine and teaches workshops on writing and editing, including for inmates in Dubai Central Prison. Books mentioned in this episode: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro   Andrea has scoured the internet for the many 'Best Books of the Year' lists courtesy of critics and booksellers, taking in Vogue, The Guardian, The New York Times and many more. Names like Colson Whitehead with Harlem Shuffle, and Sally Rooney with Beautiful World, Where Are You? come up repeatedly, and in shared second place you'll find Rachel Cusk's Second Place, tied with Jonathan Franzen's Crossroads and Patricia Lockwood's No One Is Talking About This, but the clear winner for the most mentions on these list is Ishiguro's nuanced take on the inner life of a solar powered 'artificial friend' called Klara. The House of Whispers by Anna Kent Grace and Abi fell out at university years ago, but now Grace is making contact with Abi after she's started a new life for herself. As Grace slips back into her friend's life, something isn't quite right - and Abi's husband can't help but wonder why Grace has returned to exert this unnerving influence over his wife. Worst. Idea. Ever. by Jane Fallon Annabel Kantaria's recommendation is a tale of two best friends whose relationship is threatened when one of them tells a (well-meaning) white lie. Lydia's online business is struggling, and Georgia sets up a fake account to pose as a potential customer but Lydia starts sharing more than business with her, and Georgia is shocked by the truths that start pouring out. The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward Multiple narrators tell this story of a man called Ted who lives in the last house on Needless Street, with his talking, religious cat Olivia, and his daughter Lauren. Children have been disappearing from the lake near Ted's house and Dee, who lost her sister years prior in the same lake, is sure Ted has something to do with it. A roller coaster horror/thriller tale that you'll inhale in one sitting.   The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman How can you talk about the best books of 2021 without mentioning the ones that flew off the shelves? After the incredible success of The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman published another cosy crime caper in September this year: Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron are back and this time they have murder, stolen diamonds and violent mobsters to contend with. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and once scored 82 points in one move in Scrabble. Best day ever. Annabelle Corton is the English
13-12-2021
31 mins
The Read the UAE episode, with Omar Ghobash
'My country is younger than my father' - Eman Al Yousuf In this UAE National Day special, Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle are joined by Eman Al Yousuf, author and Arabic Literature Events Executive at the Emirates Literature Foundation, and diplomat HE Omar Saif Ghobash, author of Letters to a Young Muslim. We talk about the UAE's literary scene - where it's at right now, where it's going, the genres that are most popular and why, how the concept of constructive criticism is evolving in the region, and Omar's foray into writing fiction about a subject close to his heart. Books by Emirati writers in translation mentioned in this episode: Karima by Dr Mana Saeed Al Otaiba One of the biggest Emirati literary names, Dr Mana Saeed Al Otaiba is the author of over a hundred books published in Arabic, and no stranger to Ahlam and Eman, who remember studying and memorizing his poetry at school. His novel Karima was published in Arabic in 1990 but was published this year in English. If you're looking for a great story about love and revenge set betwen the UAE and Morocco, this is definitely one to add to your TBR pile.   The Statue of Dalma by Reem Al Kamali One of the most important Emirati historical fiction novelists, Reem Al Kamali's The Statue of Dalma is thankfully available to enjoy in English. The story of a handsome young man called Nurta, on the island of Dalma off the coast of Abu Dhabi who sets about carving a giant statue of a goddess during the fall of the Sumerian civilization, the rise of the Akkadian Empire and subsequent attacks, and the impact of this turmoil on the man's labour of art and love. The Sand Fish by Maha Gargash Be transported to the UAE of the 1950s, through this story of an independent Emirati Woman, Noora, who escapes a forced arranged marriage in the wake of her mother's death.   Zelzelah: A Woman Before Her Time by Mariam Behnam If you prefer memoir to fiction as a way to immerse yourself in this young nation, Ahlam recommends this story of Mariam Behnam (AKA Zelzelah which means 'earthquake' in Farsi and Urdu) and her unconventional life in Iran and the UAE. The first woman in her conservative and traditional family to get a university degree, she went on to become a diplomat in Pakistan and Iran and get caught up in the revolution of 1979, and to then seek refuge in Dubai. Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash Told in a series of personal letters to his son, UAE diplomat Omar Saif Ghobash tackles how to balance being true to one's faith as a Muslim while navigating the complexities of modern life. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and once scored 82 points in one move in Scrabble. Best day ever. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
29-11-2021
39 mins
The Everyone's a Comedian episode, with Naji Bakhti
On this episode, Annabelle and Andrea talk about three books that have made them laugh, and then they are joined by the fabulous Woodhouse Prize 2021 nominee Naji Bakhti, author of Between Beirut And The Moon.    Books and authors mentioned:   Something I Said, by Ben Bailey Smith Hilarious middle grade caper following 13 year old Carmichael Taylor as he suffers the consequences of being funny.    Broken, by Jenny Lawson Hilarious and poignant, this book offers LOLs and hope in equal measures.   Between Beirut And The Moon, by Naji Bakhti With comedy and danger lurking behind every corner, this is a coming of age novel like no other, set in post-civil-war Beirut.      Naji’s recommendation: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, by Roddy Doyle About us: Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and once scored 82 points in one move in Scrabble. Best day ever. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
18-11-2021
25 mins
The DiwaLit episode, with Alka Joshi
In this episode, the Boundless Book Club celebrates Diwali with Tamreez Inam, the Emirates LitFest's head of programming, joining Andrea to talk about a few books by Indian authors. Alka Joshi, author of The Henna Artist, joins the conversation to talk about her book coming to Netflix, the importance of representation in the writer's room, and how a career in advertising has helped the fiction writing process. Books and authors in this episode: A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth A fully engrossing marriage plot set in 1950s India, with hints of Austen. The Dying Day, by Vaseem Khan India's first female police officer is on the trail of a missing priceless manuscript, with a trail of bodies, cryptic clues, constant sexism and a heart of darkness. The Henna Artist, by Alka Joshi Delicious escapism when seventeen-year-old Lakshmi escapes her marriage and becomes a successful henna artist in 1950s pink city of Jaipur. About us: Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
01-11-2021
30 mins
The Spooky Special episode, with Silvia Moreno-Garcia
In this episode, Annabelle tells us all about her love of the creepy dark spooky stories and goes on a recommendation spree, before speaking with the prolific, uber cool and phenomenally gifted Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Books and authors mentioned: The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey The ABC of horror, this beautiful illustrated little work of nonsense delights in all the right ways! Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Glamorous, decadent, and creeping dread. What's not to love? The Decapitated Chicken and other stories, by Horacio Quiroga Mental illness, hallucinatory states, and the survival of man and animal in a tropical jungle, is all on offer in this collection of short stories. Pet Sematary, by Steven King We all know about the ancient Indian burial ground next to the pet cemetery isn't good news, but what surprised us is the emotional punch packed into this classic horror novel. Audition, Ryu Murakami This tale of a man looking for love by staging auditions is disturbing in a gruesome way that will appeal to fans of Tarantino. We also reminisce about the terrifying book recommended in our Scary Books episode last year, which you can listen to here: https://the-boundless-book-club.captivate.fm/episode/the-scary-books-episode-/ (https://the-boundless-book-club.captivate.fm/episode/the-scary-books-episode-/ ) And if you can't get enough of horror, we have more tips on our blog: https://blog.elfdubai.org/blogs/post/horror-movie-books-halloween (https://blog.elfdubai.org/blogs/post/horror-movie-books-halloween) About Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed speculative novels Gods of Jade and Shadow, Signal to Noise, Certain Dark Things, and The Beautiful Ones; and the crime novel Untamed Shore. She has edited several anthologies, includ­ing the World Fantasy Award–winning She Walks in Shadows (aka Cthulhu’s Daughters). She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. About us: Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and once scored 82 points in one move in Scrabble. Best day ever. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
26-10-2021
33 mins
The Booker Prize Snub episode
In this episode, Andrea and Annabelle are joined by Mazen Nahawi, enthusiastic reader and Founder and CEO of media intelligence firm CARMA, here to add some intelligence to the conversation about one of the highest profile snubs this year.  Sir Kazuo Ishiguro is no stranger to the Booker Prize, having won the award in 1989 for The Remains of the Day, and let’s not forget, a whole raft of other awards including the Nobel Prize and an OBE.  After the longlist was announced in July, Ishiguro was a joint favourite to win with his latest book, Klara and The Sun, and looked like a clear shoo-in for the shortlist. But he was snubbed, pipped to the post by Damon Galgut's The Promise, Maggie Shipstead's Great Circle, Richard Powers' Bewilderment, Anuk Arudpragasam's A Passage North, Nadifa Mohamed's The Fortune Men, and Patricia Lockwood's novel No one is Talking About This.   Books and authors in this episode: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro   About us: Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
18-10-2021
15 mins
The Books About Books episode
In this episode, Andrea and Annabelle are joined by author Nadia Wassef who talks about her fabulous memoir Shelf Life, Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller, and the foundation’s own Dania Droubi joins the conversation about the Russian Dolls (or piñata cakes) of literature: books about books.     Books and authors mentioned in this episode: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin A misanthropic bookseller who doesn’t like books, a baby found in the children’s section of the book store, and a stolen priceless treasure – this book has a lot going on and Dania can’t recommend it enough.   I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and broke family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere, waiting for her father to write another Important Novel that will lift them back out of poverty. Her older sister reads Jane Austen novels and longs for romance. Thankfully, the Cottons inherit the estate and arrive from the US with two eligible young brothers in the family, and the stage is set.     The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams Swansby's New Encyclopaedic Dictionary is riddled with fictitious entries known as mountweazels penned by Peter Winceworth, a man wishing to make his lasting mark back in 1899. It's up to young intern Mallory to uncover these mountweazels before the dictionary can be digitised for modern readers.   Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef In 2002, with her sister, Hind, and their friend, Nihal, Nadia founded Diwan, a new kind of independent bookstore. They were three young women with no business degrees, no formal training, and nothing to lose. This adventure took over their lives completely, and this book is a love letter to the business they created.   Also check out our blog post with more https://blog.elfdubai.org/blogs/post/reading-double-must-read-books-about-books (books about books)!  About us: Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
04-10-2021
37 mins
The Short Books for a Busy Life episode
Welcome back to Season 3! In this SHORT episode, Andrea and Annabelle go on a quick pit-stop tour of five books you can read in one sitting, or in fits and starts as you go about your daily business in what feels like the busiest month of the year. Expect weird intrigue, an uncomfortable honeymoon, a look at a world without chocolate or cats, and some scathing upper class satire (and that doesn't even include Andrea's bonus celebrity impression). Books and authors mentioned in this episode: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan A sensitive and sparsely told story of two newlyweds and the ensuing complications and obstacles that their honeymoon brings to light, is perfect for anyone who wants a complex novel about relationships and intimacy with a fraction of the time usually required to read one. The Day Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura A book that sold millions of copies in Japan, this is the story of an unnamed narrator who makes a deal with the Devil in exchange for a longer lifespan, but there's an odd catch...and the Devil sports Hawaian print shirts instead of horns. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford Published in 1945, this is the first in a trilogy about a lady's pursuit of love in an English upper class family. The satire is every bit as biting as you might expect. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson    From the author of The Haunting of Hill House comes this tale of two sisters, their eccentric sickly uncle and the gradual unpeeling of why the town hates them, and most importantly, why the rest of their family is dead. It's unsettling, beautifully written and short. The Digested Read by John Crace If you haven't got time to read a full length novel, you could just read John Crace's satirical summary of it. Each digested read is 500 words and can be read while you wait for the kettle to boil. About us: Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and once scored 82 points in one move in Scrabble. Best day ever. Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
21-09-2021
21 mins
The Kids of America episode
In this episode we say happy 244th birthday to the ever youthful and dynamic United States of America. Ahlam and Andrea recommend two very different books that say something about growing up in the US, and then they are joined by American author Avni Doshi who shares her top tip for what to read this 4th July.  Books and authors mentioned in this episode: Dominicana by Angie Cruz Based on the author’s mother’s experience, this coming of age novel shares the story of Ana, who at the age of 15 is married to 32 year old Juan Ruiz and taken to America, with the weight of her family’s future on her shoulders.   Educated by Tara Westover From the isolation and loneliness of the immigrant experience to the isolation and loneliness of being estranged from your family, this is the memoir of a young woman growing up in a Mormon survivalist family, where seeking education was seen as an act of rebellion. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol finds himself itching to cast off the inherited values and priorities that his parents assign him. His mother is feeling desperately isolated in this new country and unable to assimilate, and Gogol struggles with integrating the two sides of his identity, as an American and a second-generation immigrant.   About Avni Doshi: Avni Doshi is an American novelist currently based in Dubai. She was born in New Jersey to immigrants from India. Her debut novel, Girl in White Cotton, was published in India in 2019. In 2020, it was published in the United Kingdom under the title Burnt Sugar. The novel was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
04-07-2021
43 mins
The Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlist episode
In this episode, Andrea and Annabelle go on a quick pit-stop tour of the six novels on the Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist - you can expect everything from a mystery story in an ocean-filled mansion to cautionary tales in Barbados, with a side helping of fun facts about authors, and a weird story about what watching The Exorcist 72 times does to a man. Don't miss our Festival podcast where you can listen to fantastic writers including Amin Maalouf, Elif Shafak, Malala, and Ian Rankin. Tune in to the Best of Emirates LitFest https://emirateslitfest-podcast.captivate.fm/listen (https://emirateslitfest-podcast.captivate.fm/listen) Books and authors mentioned in this episode:  Piranesi by Susanna Clarke  Piranesi lives in a house so vast it has weather systems and tides, with one other nameless person, aptly titled 'The Other'. It's weird, and wonderful, and full of intrigue and Annabelle might start a fan club for the book, which also featured on our Best Books of the Year episode with Mark Fiddes.  The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett Andrea's favourite on the list is a multigenerational fiction tale about the ramifications of pretending to be something that you're not, which explores the lives of two twin sisters  in the US from the 1950s to 1990s - one who lives life as a black woman, and one who 'passes' for white. This also featured on https://the-boundless-book-club.captivate.fm/episode/the-and-the-award-for-the-best-supporting-character-goes-to-episode ('And the Award for the Best Supporting Character Goes To' episode) with Jasper Fforde. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi   A PhD student navigates scientific research into the opioid addiction that took her brother's life while grappling with the fraught relationship she has with her Ghanian Mum who feels out of place in Huntsville, Alabama.  No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood A tale of two halves with an experimental first act that reads in the style of a twitter thread with plenty of wit and internet-savvy humour. It jerks you in a completely different narrative direction in the second half when tragedy strikes the title character IRL.  Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller Two impoverished twins barely scrape together an existence in their crumbling home until the death of their mum reveals secrets that make them question everything they've ever known.  How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones  There is trouble in paradise in this Barbados-set story of three marriages, a cautionary tale, and the sacrifices that some women make to survive.     About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble.  Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction...
21-06-2021
26 mins
The I'm With the Band episode with Jessica Anya Blau
In this episode, Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle recommend books that have music at their heart before novelist Jessica Anya Blau stops by to chat about her latest book Mary Jane, the joy of 70s music, Keith Richards and more. You can expect a record store owner who uses music to navigate his breakups, hipster 'audio craftsmen' who are haunted by an eerie jazz tune and its dark history, and a summer nanny whose life is forever altered when a famous rock star and his wife move in next door. Books and authors mentioned in this episode: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby You can't have a conversation about books and music without mentioning this 1995 bestselling exploration of love and pain through pop culture, top ten lists, and the eyes of 35 year old record store owner Rob Fleming. White Tears by Hari Kunzru Andrea leaves us on the edge of our seat with this recommendation about two hipster record producers who tape a black man singing a blues song, and live to regret it. A ghost story that's also a meditation on cultural appropriation, and a dark period of musical history, it's like nothing you've ever read before. Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau If you're looking for the perfect summer read, try this coming of age story about a fourteen year old girl who is thrown into the chaos and drama of the family she works for over the summer in 1970s Baltimore, which only increases as a famous rock star moves into the family home to discreetly receive treatment for his drug addiction. About Jessica Anya Blau Jessica Anya Blau was born in Boston and raised in Southern California. Her novels have been featured on The Today Show, CNN and NPR, and in Cosmo, Vanity Fair, Bust, Time Out, Oprah Summer Reads and other national publications. Jessica's short stories and essays have been published in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. Jessica co-wrote the script for Love on the Run starring Frances Fisher and Steve Howey. She sometimes works as a ghost writer and has taught writing at Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College and The Fashion Institute of Technology. Jessica lives in New York. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
07-06-2021
37 mins
The Unpopular Opinions episode
Want to win books signed by the authors? Of course you do, and all you need to do is complete this survey: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/ahCNu5 In this episode, we look at books and writers that put forward an unpopular opinion, including persuasive arguments for not becoming a mother, why you should be against empathy, and our author and editor guest Allison K Williams' opinion that not everyone has a book in them (that deserves readers). Books and authors mentioned in this episode: Motherhood by Sheila Heti A thoughtful novel for those who are interested in both unpopular opinions and unique writing styles, Sheila Heti's auto fiction is a writing woman's exploration of motherhood, particularly the taboo reasons why she would not want to shoulder the role society has laid out for women for centuries. Against Empathy by Paul Bloom If you're anything like us over at the Boundless Book Club, you might be surprised by Paul Bloom's assertion that empathy is not the guiding light it is portrayed to be. Andrea takes us through this psychologist's take on the dangers of empathy as a tool for decision-making and how rationality and compassion are the way forward if we want to make the world a better place. About Allison K Williams Allison K Williams is a Writer, Editor, Speaker and Writing Coach. She is the author of Get Published in Literary Magazines and Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro From Blank Page to Book which publishes later this year. She has edited and coached writers to deals with Penguin Random House, Knopf, Mantle, Spencer Hill, St. Martin’s and independent presses. She’s guided essayists to publication in the New Yorker, Time, the Guardian, the New York Times, McSweeney’s and TED Talks. Allison runs the Rebirth Your Book writing retreats virtually and around the world. As Social Media Editor for Brevity, she inspires thousands of writers with blogs on craft and the writing life. A former circus performer, Allison has written for NPR, CBC, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Creative Nonfiction, McSweeney’s, Kenyon Review Online and Travelers’ Tales. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
24-05-2021
38 mins
The Access Denied episode
This episode was recorded 25 April. Since then, we have seen heart breaking parallels between one of the books we discuss in this episode and the reality facing families in Sheikh Jarrah. Our hearts go out to the families affected, and we pray for a cessation and reversal of the evictions. In this episode, Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle discuss books that allow us access to places we would normally be denied, whether glimpsing the afterlife, exile, North Korea, or a fog-covered island dominated by a sinister cult. Author, translator and expert on North Korea, Immanuel Kim, joins us to share insight into one of the least visited countries in the world. Books and authors mentioned in this episode: Kololo Hill by Neema Shah Partly inspired by her grandparents' journey from India to East Africa in the 1940s and set during the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by Idi Amin in the early 70s, Neema Shah's debut multi-generational story of an Indian family forced to flee their home at the whim of the 'Butcher of Uganda' is a pacey and moving read. The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein Sometimes it's even harder to leave a place than it is to enter. This is the case in this psychological thriller about what appears to be the perfect island community, written by a former member of the Church of Scientology who was based at the cult's headquarters for 20 years. Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani The ultimate access denied that connects us all is the afterlife. This memoir details Moorjani's diagnosis with cancer, her subsequent near-death experience, how her healing process baffled doctors and how it helped her grapple with her own mortality. About Immanuel Kim Immanuel Kim is Korea Foundation and Kim-Renaud Associate Professor of Korean Literature and Culture Studies at George Washington University. He is the author of Rewriting Revolution: Women, Sexuality, and Memory in North Korean Fiction, and the translator of Friend by Paek Nam–nyong, one of North Korea’s most popular writers. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
10-05-2021
47 mins
The And the Award for the Best Supporting Character Goes To.. episode
In this episode, as the Academy Awards have just announced their best supporting actors and actresses we found ourselves wondering who would win the Boundless Book Club trophy for best supporting character. Join Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle on a journey through some of their favourite supporting characters who definitely deserve more page time. Stay tuned for a fascinating roaming conversation with Jasper Fforde coming in around the 28 minute mark. Complete the survey for a chance to win fabulous books, perhaps even one signed by Jasper Fforde! https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/ahCNu5 Books and authors mentioned in this episode: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens I think you might be able to guess which jilted spinster Ahlam was drawn to in this classic about the young Pip, his mysterious benefactor, and his love for the beautiful Estella. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien The list of supporting characters in this beloved fantasy series is extensive, and mostly male, but the female characters of Middle Earth really hold their own. Can you guess which one Annabelle chose? The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett This incredible book that has captivated readers all over the world stars two twin sisters whose paths in life diverge when they make very different choices that will affect the way they are perceived in a fiercely segregated time and place. But Andrea argues the bounty hunter on the sidelines needs his own show. About Jasper Fforde Jasper Fforde has been writing in the Comedy/Fantasy Genre since 2001 when his novel 'The Eyre Affair' debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list. Since then he has published fourteen more books, several of them bestsellers, and counts his sales in millions. 'The Constant Rabbit' will be his 15th novel. He lives and works in Wales. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
26-04-2021
51 mins
The Ramadan Reading episode with Gelong Thubten
In this episode, we look at books to read during the holy month of Ramadan. Ahlam gives us a whistle-stop tour of key facts, from fasting to the five pillars of Islam, before we speak to Buddhist Monk Gelong Thubten about all things mindfulness and meditation during Ramadan. Books and authors mentioned in this episode: Muslim Women Mystics: The Life and Work of Rabi'a and Other Women Mystics in Islam by Margaret Smith Ahlam recommends this introduction to the great Sufi thinker, Rab'ia of Basra, in a book that discusses the contribution made by Basra and other women mystics to Islamic heritage and history. Intuitive Fasting by Dr Will Cole Chiropractor and practitioner of functional medicine Dr Will Cole might not be Andrea's favourite science writer but the recipes in his book look promising if you're looking for steadier blood sugar and a healthier approach when breaking your fast. Breath by James Nestor Science writer and journalist James Nestor's ten-year foray into investigating the history of scientific breakthroughs and studies into the 'lost art of breathing' cover the importance of nose breathing, hypoventilation training in athletes, the correlation between breathing and prayer, and much more About Gelong Thubten Gelong Thubten is a Buddhist monk, meditation teacher, and Sunday Times bestselling author of A Monk's Guide to Happiness. His new book, a practical guide complete with meditation exercises, is titled Handbook for Hard Times: A Monk's Guide to Fearless Living, due to be published March 2022. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
12-04-2021
50 mins
The This Place Will Kill You episode - with Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
Do you have opinions about the show? Tell us what you think, so we can do better: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/ahCNu5 (https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/ahCNu5) ---- In this episode, Andrea and Annabelle look at books that take their characters to some dangerous places, from the isolation of a cabin in the Arctic, to the simmering violence of an African jungle, before speaking to bestselling Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir about writing crime fiction in the land of fire and ice. Books and authors mentioned in this episode: A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter Austrian housewife Christiane Ritter's memoir of a year spent in a cabin in Spitsbergen surrounded by polar bears and deadly conditions in 1933 with her husband is a masterclass in resilience and inspiration for anyone travelling to the Arctic or following a loved one on a journey into the unknown. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver If you're ready for cold weather to seep into your fiction, you can try this horror/ghost story  set in an isolated base camp of a scientific expedition in Svalbard in 1937. Thanks to Emily Barr for the recommendation! Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd In the midst of raging civil wars in an unnamed African nation, ethologist Hope Clearwater is apprehensive of the results of ongoing primate research and grapples with the strain of her marriage to a brilliant mathematician on the brink. An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie Published in 1981, this Togo teenager's account of discovering a book about Greenland, and then working his way north over the course of a decade to get there is the travel memoir we can't wait to read next. About Yrsa Sigurdaddotir A prolific writer and civil engineer with both children’s books and dark crime fiction to her name, Yrsa Sigurdaddotir made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with Last Rituals and has been translated into more than thirty languages. The Silence of the Sea won the Petrona Award in 2015 and The Prey won the 2020 Icelandic Blood Drop Award for the best crime novel of 2020. Gallows Rock is her thirteenth adult novel and the fourth in the Freyja and Huldar Series. The Legacy is the first in this series and one of the titles mentioned in the episode. About us: Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next? Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.
29-03-2021
35 mins