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Wow’s the word as curtain goes up
By Imran Mojib March 05, 2013
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DUBAI: Excitement is in the air as the 5th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is set to open on Tuesday. The five-day literary extravaganza will feature a 115-plus strong line-up of authors from 30 countries, including some of the world’s most acclaimed writers such as Jeffrey Archer, Shashi Tharoor, Ian Rankin, Dan Rather, Alia Mamdouh, Waciny Laredj, Antony Beevor and Anupam Kher.

This year’s Festival promises to deliver a special celebration of the written and spoken word. It has an exceptional author line-up and an amazing programme of sessions, Masterclasses, workshops, special events and public performances. If ticket sales are any indication to go by, people have been responding enthusiastically, snapping up loads of tickets in a very short time.

One of the most acclaimed events of the festival, The Orwell Lecture — which commemorates the life and work of British author and social activist George Orwell, will be delivered by Dr Shashi Tharoor on the topic of “Globalisation, Disruption and the Human Imagination.”

United Nations peace-keeper, refugee worker, human rights activist, and politician, Tharoor straddles several worlds of experience. He is considered an expert on India’s recent transformation and future prospects, globalisation, freedom of the press, human rights, literacy, Indian culture, and India’s present and potential influence in world politics. He is the author of 13 books, as well as hundreds of articles in a wide range of international publications.

Tharoor will also discuss his latest book, the non- fiction Pax Indica: India & the World of the 21st Century, a study of India’s foreign relations and global strategy. The session will be conducted by India’s eminent columnist and writer Anil Dharker.

A particular highlight of the festival this year is a poetic evening entitled “Desert Stanzas.” Poets from around the world including Simon Armitage, Roger McGough, Ben Okri, Sjon, Jeet Thayil and the Emirates’ own Adel Khozam and Nujoom Al Ghanem will recite their work under the stars in a special Bedu campsite. The event will become even more special with the addition of live music and a sumptuous Arabic buffet.

One of the highlights of the festival this year is “The Murder Mystery Dinner.” A flagship event of the festival, this is a professionally orchestrated “murder” evening with the special twist that guests have a LitFest 2013 author at their table for dinner and to help solve the mystery.

Other much-awaited events are two workshops — Finding Your Creative Muse — a live and unique workshop conducted by Kathy Shalhoub and The Quick Pitch — a workshop conducted by top Literary Agent Luigi Bonomi in which attendees get instant feedback on their ideas for a book.

A unique aspect of this year’s festival is the “Dubai Doors” project, inspired by the Liverpool Doors project, a brainchild of UK-based poet Roger McGough and artist Mark Cockram, which features unique art installations and exhibitions exploring the history and character of Liverpool through stories and memories symbolised by doors from across the city.

The “Dubai Doors” project will feature commissioned artworks by three Emirati artists including self-taught photographer, graphic designer, and amateur writer Hamdan Buti Al Shamisi; graphic designer, blogger, and mixed-media artist Hessa Al Awadhi; and visual artist and designer Ali Kashwani.

Celebrating the union of poetry and visual arts, the three Emirati artists have created work that is inspired by selected verses of Arabic poetry, under Dubai Culture’s recently launched initiative Holal, aimed at strengthening the essence and portrayal of the Arabic language.

The five doors designed by the artists will showcase the versatility, vividness and richness of literature in a vibrant, dynamic way, through various avenues of visual arts. Symbolising the opening of a book or the turning of a page, the “Dubai Doors” celebrates the true spirit of the written word.

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