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 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.
1w ago
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
The Fairies, Death, and the Books at the End of the Rainbow episode
Craic open a book with Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle as they take you on a journey through the best of Irish banter, murder, ghosts, fairies, criminal masterminds, 70s nostalgia and more, in honour of St. Patrick's Day (but worth reading every day). Sheila Maher also drops in from Dublin to recommend her top tip for a book by a fellow Irish author. Books and authors mentioned in this episode: Himself by Jess Kidd Tall dark handsome stranger who has a way with the ladies and for seeing the dead, rolls into rural Irish town looking for answers about his mother, while tough old bird Mrs Cauley stages a play to help him reveal the inhabitants' secrets. If you're looking for another beautifully written tale with wit and a touch of endearing strangeness, Jess Kidd's second book Mr. Flood's Last Resort/The Hoarder is also highly recommended. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue Ireland. 1859. Science and faith clash in this story of a young girl who becomes a money-making attraction in a small town for reportedly surviving without food for months, and the nurse suspicious of the claims who forms a bond with her. Top tip - much like Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, Ahlam suggests this book is best listened to as an audiobook. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer Artemis is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Is he a match for Holly Short, who is part of a fairy special forces unit? Andrea is of course recommending Artemis Fowl, the criminally good children's classic suitable for all ages with good taste. She awards it top marks for both tugging at the heartstrings of adults and offering children a rollicking adventure full of Irish wit. Six at the Table: Take the 70s, Add Family and Mix Well by Sheila Maher Sheila Maher is a regular contributor to RTÉ Sunday Miscellany, and joins us to talk about her favourite Irish writers. Her own book is a memoir that takes a trip through 70s nostalgia - the story of a childhood told through meals shared and family trips. The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan Sheila Maher's recommendation is set in a rural Irish village and details the impact of an economic crash on 21 characters, masterfully told through 21 different chapters in the space of 170 moving pages.   More reading tips: https://blog.elfdubai.org/blogs/post/irish-authors-to-read-all-year Music: Fiddle-De-Dee by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com 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.
15-03-2021
35 mins
The Mad Skills episode
If you could magically be gifted some 'mad skills'- what would you choose? If you could talk to animals would you want to know what your tortoise is saying about you? These are just some of the intense questions that Andrea, Ahlam and Annabelle from the Emirates Literature Foundation consider with Flora Rees, Head of Programming at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, as they each discuss books about people, creatures, and even bacteria with a particular set of skills even Liam Neeson would envy. Books and authors mentioned in this episode: Everything that Makes us Human by Jay Jayamohan Flora Rees recommends this non-fiction memoir from children's neurosurgeon Jay Jayamohan which begins with him blasting ACDC in the operating theatre as he does what he does every day - navigates a tiny human brain with a 3D map he conjures in his mind's eye. From the humorous contrast of his music choices to the darker moments of difficult decisions and conversations with parents, these case notes are both inspiring and heart-breaking in equal measure. Incredible Journeys: Exploring the Wonders of Animal Navigation by David Barrie From bacteria that are able to recreate the Tokyo train system, to the paths of albatross, ants, bees and more, this book is full of stories of creatures who find their way around the world in a myriad of fascinating ways, and Barrie's observation that we could learn a lot about where we're going from being more engaged in the natural world, than from looking at Google maps. An Adventurer's Guide to Outer Space by Isabel Thomas It's hard enough to moonwalk on the dancefloor, but what about an actual moonwalk? Andrea recommends this book suitable for children and adults who want to know the answers to all the best questions like - during a spacewalk how do you scratch your nose if your face is in a helmet? What do you do if you need the toilet? If you want to know more about the rockstar mad skills required to be an astronaut, this is the book for you. Sridevi: The Eternal Screen Goddess by Satyarth Nayak The late Bollywood superstar was an icon who grew up on camera, playing the leading lady in the Indian film industry for three generations. The range of her acting talents and the languages she was able to perform in made her a force to be reckoned with. Ahlam talks about this biography by Satyarth Nayak, begun during her lifetime and finished sadly, after her tragic death, and the light it sheds on the rise of an eternal screen goddess. 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.
01-02-2021
43 mins
The I'm kind of a Big Deal episode
No stranger to being pride of place in bookstores, there are some authors that move us as much as they move sales. Andrea, Ahlam and Annabelle from the Emirates Literature Foundation each review a book by an author who is considered 'kind of a big deal' and decide if and why they're worth the hype. Books and authors mentioned in this episode: 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak   A longtime Elif Shafak fan, Ahlam talks about Elif's connection to the Arab World and why she's so beloved in the region. After underlining almost all of her copy of the Forty Rules of Love, she reviews Shafak's latest novel that was nominated for the Booker Prize inspired by the findings that the human brain remains active 10 minutes and 38 seconds after death. Adrift by Amin Maalouf In Adrift: How Our World Lost its Way, the latest book published in English by one of the most popular writers in the Arab World, Maalouf traces some of the biggest global crises back to a handful of key moments in history.   I am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's autobiographical book subtitled The Girl Who Stood Up for Education co-written with journalist Christina Lamb, is the remarkable story of a teenage girl trying to discuss Twilight with her friends whilst navigating the impact of terrorism on her hometown. All of the authors mentioned in this episode will be attending the upcoming 2021 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.This episode was sponsored by Costa Coffee. 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.
18-01-2021
27 mins
The Perfect Pairing episode
An espresso and an early start, hot cocoa and cold weather – there are some things in life that are just a perfect match. In this episode, we discover that books are no exception, as Andrea, Ahlam and Annabelle from the Emirates Literature Foundation each select two books that are perfect companions. Side-by-side or one after the other, these are the perfect pairings.   Books and authors mentioned in this episode:   Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola  In this anthology of love stories inspired by legendary figures from myth and history, you can expect to see Nefertiti running an underground club, a Yoruba goddess in her element, Greek gods working at a London fashion magazine, and much more. Read it with.. My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay  From an abundance of love to not enough, in this memoir, acclaimed poet and Manchester treasure Lemn Sissay explores his formative years spent in the UK care system and the upheaval caused by his foster family’s rejection.   Friend by Paek Nam-nyong, translated by Immanuel Kim The first state-sanctioned novel from North Korea translated into English tells the story of a couple’s marriage unravelling, the judge who becomes involved in assessing their grounds for divorce, and a fascinating insight into a culture and society we are rarely granted access to. And speaking of the worlds we rarely see.. The Madman’s Library by Edward Brooke-Hitching Here's something you definitely haven't seen before. If you could build a fantasy library with all the most weird and wonderful books from history, this book details what it would it would look like according to Edward Brooke-Hitching – from books made of cheese to books written in blood, there is no quirky page left unturned.   I Know You by Annabel Kantaria When Taylor, an American wife moves to London to be with her husband who is frequently away on business, she turns to social media to escape her loneliness, and finds more sinister company than she bargained for. She should have read..  Surrounded by Psychopaths by Thomas Erikson In this book, we learn how to spot a psychopath and the tricks they use to manipulate us. Surrounded by Psychopaths is the follow-up to bestselling Surrounded by Idiots. Read it and learn to spot the warning signs that will stop you from getting into the sticky situation Taylor found herself in.       All of the authors mentioned in this episode will be attending the upcoming 2021 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.This episode was sponsored by Costa Coffee. 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
04-01-2021
32 mins
The Best Books of the Year episode
Episode Description From the best books of the year, to your own personal favourites and beyond, how do you decide what books to give as gifts? In this episode Andrea and Annabelle explore the world of literary gift giving with poet and author of The Rainbow Factory Mark Fiddes, from their own go-to gifting choices, to the risks and rewards of book gifting and the book you should never ever give as gift. The Best Books of the Year Andrea kicks us off with some scientific research (an excel spreadsheet) to track which books have been mentioned the most across the best fiction books of the year lists. Can you guess which ones were the most popular? Have a think and listen to the episode to see if you’re right. To explore this cutting edge analysis in more detail we’ve also put together a blog post which is available here: https://blog.elfdubai.org/blogs/post/best-books-2020-ultimate-list (https://blog.elfdubai.org/blogs/post/best-books-2020-ultimate-list) Other books and authors mentioned in this episode: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke Susanna Clarke’s first novel in 16 years since Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, at around 200 packed pages, Piranesi features a protagonist based on the 18th Century Italian artist of the same name who lives in an infinite villa where nothing is quite what it seems. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner A recently divorced dad is looking forward to life as a bachelor until his ex-wife drops the kids off for the weekend and disappears without a trace, leaving him to manage. A novel with a twist that hits you like a train, Andrea wants to recommend this to everyone. The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young If you like books and you like food, this book is a love letter to both. From a recipe for Paddington’s marmalade, to the afternoon tea in Rebecca, and the hot chocolate from Northern Lights, this is a cookbook that recreates the meals both large and small from literature and makes the perfect gift for hungry bookworms. Middlemarch by George Eliot If you’d told Mark Fiddes that Middlemarch is in essence the greatest soap opera ever told, he’d have got round to reading it a lot sooner. George Eliot’s tale of the interconnected lives of residents in this fictional provincial town keeps you spellbound over the course of 800 pages and is a masterclass in empathy. The Doctor’s Kitchen by Rupy Aujla Most of this book recommendation is concerned with Andrea delighted to confirm her bias that cinnamon is good for you, as she tells us about this cookbook written by an NHS doctor with an introduction to the health benefits of specific ingredients followed by recipes that combine them in health-boosting ways. The Merry Spinster - Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Lavery Annabelle recommends this collection of dark fairytale and children’s story retellings for anyone who likes their festivities with a pinch of Krampus and Nightmare Before Christmas. Be prepared for the beloved children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit to be forever ruined. About our Guest: Mark’s first collection The Rainbow Factory was published by Templar Poetry in 2016 following the success of his award-winning pamphlet The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre. Over the past year, he has won the Oxford Brookes University International Prize and been a winner in the National Poetry Competition, the Bridport Prize and the Robert Graves Prize. His work has also been published in Poetry Review, POEM, The New European, The Irish Times, Magma, Aesthetica, Poetry Salzburg and London Magazine among many others. He currently lives in the UAE.   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
14-12-2020
39 mins

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