Sharjah International Book Fair is stagefor ABC: Authors, Books, Character - GulfToday

Sharjah International Book Fair is stagefor ABC: Authors, Books, Character

Ammar Kizhuparamba with his book.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is the place where one meets inspirational people, young achievers and veteran exhibitors. For example, a medical condition has not dampened the writerly talents of Ammar Kizhuparamba, former Dubai journalist, now resident of Malappuram, Kerala State, India. He suffered a stroke in 2021; but this in fact motivated him to write a book in Malayalam about it.

Titled Stroke Athijeevana Padangal, or Lessons to Survive a Stroke, it is a handbook on how to deal with strokes, before and after it happens. “Every minute, one in six persons suffers a stroke, according to World Health Organisation,” Kizhuparamba said. He added that much in our lifestyles lead to this situation, which often results in death, total or partial paralysis. It is better to find and treat the reasons before a stroke, than treating them after it, according to him.

“The book I wrote recounts the findings of prominent doctors, field researchers and relates new treatments to deal with stroke,” he said. MeeM Academia is one of the leading online partners in the world where people of all ages, from young adults to senior citizens, can learn lessons on Islam. The virtual madrassa (Islamic school) is the place where learners can avail of tuition from well-known scholars. MeeM works under Markaz Knowledge City in Calicut, Kerala State, India.

 A reader assesses his book.

At work since 2020, the virtual learning solutions provider has graduated 3,200 paying students so far, says Muhammed Fayiz, who is at the MeeM stall, “Our courses are available in over forty countries, in fifteen languages, including English, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu, Bengali (Indian languages) and also German,” he said. MeeM is providing free academic courses in Spanish and free courses to Nigeria in English.

It was first set up in California, USA, and by 2030, it is its ambition to reach five million learners. “Our Arabic courses are easy to understand and is free for all religions,” Fayiz said. “We have so far trained 2,000 tutors, from which 500 are working with us. We recently celebrated our third anniversary!” The One Word Book Club was launched by Sheikh Humaid bin Khalid Al Qasimi.

The Club is an innovative reading project of the Malaibar Foundation for Research and Development, which also functions under Markaz Knowledge City. “The One Word Book Club is not just a book club; it is a place for aspiring readers to come together and explore the world of books and knowledge,” say the organisers. “It is a community of passionate readers sharing the joy of reading, enabling bonds to form through reading and discussions.” Markaz Knowledge City is an integrated township made up of eighteen entities working in the fields of education, culture, health, entrepreneurship, and residence.    

 A young reader comes to grips with his book.

Young achiever Sajini Varadharajan, a 12-year-old 8th grade student at GEMS United Indian School, Abu Dhabi, has authored an impressive collection of 20 books so far. Her literary creations span a wide spectrum of genres, including suspense tales to short stories and poetry, catering to readers of all ages. At SIBF, she joyfully showcased her literary works, engaged with book enthusiasts, and explored new horizons in the world of literature.

Sajini was honoured with the Camel International Award 2023, earning the title of ‘Young Author of the Year’ at SIBF this year. She has also been a winner at the International Star Kids Awards, Arabian World Records (2022), India Book of Records and Asia Book of Records (2021). Adish Sajeev, 8, is an expert on what his father Sajeev calls “mirror writing.”

 Yu Haraguchi wears the kimono.

Adish writes alphabets in reverse – through he can write the right way too – and the letters can be seen in their proper form only with the help of a mirror. At SIBF, he is showing Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth, whose letters he has written in reverse. It is a huge book, of 473 pages and fits into a box 70cm x 80cm.

Adish has been a winner at the Time World Records and also Arabian World Records, notes his proud mother, Vrijitha. J-Links Co. Ltd. from Japan has brought books, comics, Japanese language books, novels, travelogues and cooking books to its space in SIBF. It is the third time it is coming to the fair; J-Links’ attachment to SIBF is so strong, that it was present even during Covid. “It was very surprising to see big crowds here during Covid,” Ayumi Kimba, who was in the J-Links stall, said.

 Sajini Varadharajan with one of her awards.

“The situation was very different in Japan!” Kimba said that she was seeing more and more people in the fair each year and the shelves were getting bigger and better. J-Links has brought around 300 titles for this, the 42nd edition of the book fair. “People seem to be getting fonder of reading Japanese books in English,” Kimba said. “This is especially true regarding the younger generation.

 Eight-year-old Adish Sajeev with his mother.

Some know about Japanese authors – quite a few even more than us!” She spoke about Japanese Nobel Prize winners in Literature like Kawabata Yasunari (1968), Oe Kenzaburo (1994), and Kazuo Ishiguro (2017). She also mentioned Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, international best-selling author. J-Links has three divisions dealing with inbound tourism, exports and events.

Attracting huge crowds at J-Links is Yu Haraguchi, who is dressed in the kimono, the long, loose traditional Japanese robe with wide sleeves, tied with a sash. Few are those who can resist taking her photo! 

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