Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

LitNews: Booker Prize Winner Announcement, Presidential Memoirs, National Book Award Winners & More

Your weekly guide to the latest happenings in the world of books!

With some of the publishing industry's biggest prizes being handed out this week, it's been hard to focus on anything else! So without further ado, here's some of what's caught our attention this week: 

The winner of the 2020 Booker Prize will be announced this evening! The ceremony takes place between 11:00pm and 12:00am GST. You’ll have the chance to hear from The Duchess of Cornwall, Barack Obama, Kazuo Ishiguro, Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood. You can watch it on the BBC Arts Digital Live page, or listen via BBC Radio 4 as well from 11:15pm GST. If you’re curious about the books or need a refresh, we’ve got a piece on a few of the shortlisted books on What's On and of course ourBoundless Book Club episode with Saeed Saeed from The National too. 

Egyptian short story master Said Al Kafrawi who was a regular attendee at Naguib Mahfouz’s legendary Cairo literary salons, and wrote about everyday Egyptian life, has sadly passed away. If you’d like to read one of his books in translation The Hill of Gypsies and Other Stories is a good place to start according to the piece on his life by Saeed Saeed in The National this week.

 Many of us aren’t travelling right now and if we are, it doesn’t look the same as it used to. Luckily, we still have books that can do the legwork for us. The Financial Times has a roundup of some of the best travel books of 2020 including an exploration of graveyards titled A Tomb with a View and a look at Iceland’s remarkable ratio of museums to people in The Museum of Whales You Will Never See. If you were wondering, the figure of is 265 museums to 357000 people.  

 The Emirates Literature Foundation has completed its second Writer in Residence programme ‘From the Inside Out’ at Dubai Prison with locally-based writers Allison K Williams and Jessica Jarlvi. Last week saw the two authors take up a week long writers’ residency in Dubai Punitive and Correctional Institutions, conducting creative writing workshops with groups of inmates under the theme ‘Change the Story’. Read more about the project here, and what the writers had to say about their experience.

Here’s a fascinating look in the Kathmandu Post at the challenges of book design in the Nepali publishing industry, from the readability of the Devanagari letters and how this impacts typography, to the general technological obstacles of printing and production.

Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land is now out! Watch his remotely conducted Oprah Winfrey interview to see what you can achieve with a green screen! You can have a look at a fun outtakes clip here and watch the interview for free on Apple TV.

Speaking of presidential memoirs, there’s no doubt a Trump memoir would sell, but will publishers buy it? Asks this New York Times article on the ethics and accuracy concerns of such a scenario.

Can you imagine having to narrate the audiobook of JR by William Gaddis? A 700 page novel often described as ‘unreadable’ featuring 120 characters who speak in unattributed quotes? Well, Nick Sullivan can! Here’s a fascinating interview with him on how recording this audiobook took over his life. 

The National Book Awards were also this week! Top prizes went to Interior Chinatown, a darkly comedic novel about a struggling Asian-American actor by Charles Yu, and Malcolm X biography The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X started decades ago by Les Payne and completed after his death by his daughter Tamara. More details here.

The Sharjah International Book Fair drew to a close on Saturday, but you can still read what one of India’s best-selling romance novelists had to say about love, publishing and more. Read the interview with Ravinder Singh here.

What happens when government security clearance gets in the way of a writing career? Find out in this essay in LitHub

Cambridge and Stratford Literary Festivals team up to start a conversation on the growing crisis in the UK arts scene. In joint session Covid and Culture: How will the Arts Survive? they ask how the performing arts and cultural events can survive the restrictions Covid has imposed, and what impact will this have on now unemployed freelancers as well as young people seeking careers in the arts. Featuring actress Juliet Stevenson CBE, screen and theatre director Sir Richard Eyre CBE and composer Shirley J Thompson OBE, the session is free to watch until 29th November on the websites Stratford Literary Festival and Cambridge Literary Festival as part of their upcoming Winter Weekends of events.

For more news on what the Emirates Literature Foundation is up to, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. And to keep up with the rest of our book-filled discussion, you can listen to the latest episode of our Boundless Book Club podcast, featured down below!