Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

LitNews: A Tribute To A National Treasure, Cracking Cain's Jawbone, Some Big Prizes & More

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

Apart from ruminating about Armistice Day, here's what's caught the Emirates Literature Foundation's eye this week:

Emirati author, scholar and national treasure Mohammad Al Gurg has sadly passed away and the tributes for a man who shaped the cultural fabric of the UAE from the trucial states era onwards, keep on coming. "We lost a traveling encyclopaedia" begins the headline in The National. He was working on a 10-volume work of Arabic Literature when he died. 

This year's Sharjah International Book Fair is currently underway. Here's what we learned from some of the authors: Ahmed Mourad plans to write a novel about the coronavirus pandemic in future and Yann Martel's next novel is inspired by The Illiad

The Voices of Future Generations story-writing competition is open once more for those aged 8-12, from now until the deadline of March 21st, 2021. Any children interested in participating will have the opportunity to hone their writing skills via 10 creative writing webinars taking place every week in Arabic and English. You just need to go the VOFG website to register. 

Hundreds of students who participated in the Emirates NBD Poetry For All competition, where students have to perform poems off by heart for a judging panel. The semi-finals took place on Zoom over two weeks.

Emirates LitFest and the Emirates Literature Foundation have been shortlisted in multiple categories at the Middle East PR Association Awards! It’s the region's biggest showcase of the best communications campaigns each year, and we’re up for Best Arts & Culture, Best Live Event, Best Consumer Services, and Best Non-Profit, Best Sustainability, and Best Campaign in the Middle East! 

After winning the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2007 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is champion once more with Half of a Yellow Sun which has been voted the best winning book in the prize’s history. The one-off award was chosen by the public and is part of the Prize’s 25th anniversary celebrations this year.

A literary puzzle called Cain’s Jawbone has been solved for the first time since the year it was created in 1934 by a crossword puzzle creator at the The Observer. It has only ever been cracked by three people, most recently by a comedy writer during the pandemic lockdown. But what on Earth is Cain’s Jawbone? It’s a 100 page murder-mystery with six murders that the reader must follow clues to solve. Oh, and one last thing - the entire novel is printed with all the pages out of order. No big deal. More on the origins of the puzzle and the sleuth who recently cracked it here

What would Dickens’ classic Great Expectations look like in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Would Miss Havisham’s wedding dress have shoulder pads? We’ll find out once we read Gill Darling’s debut novel Erringby, the rights to which have just been bought by Fairlight Books through an open submissions programme 

Fans of The Wrath and The Dawn will have to keep their eyes and ears peeled as the YA novel will be adapted into a TV series! Described as Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights, Renee Ahdieh’s fantasy novel was recently included in Time Magazine’s recent roundup of the 100 best fantasy novels of all time, and it incorporates folklore from the Middle East, China, India and North Africa.

What still draws readers to Agatha Christie’s work even a 100 years after she published her first murdery mystery in October 1920? You can read a retrospective on the ‘Queen of Crime’ here.

recent UK study looking at diversity in children’s literature, has found that 7% of UK-published books over the last three years feature characters from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background despite 33.5% of students of school age being of minority ethnic origin. 

A recently unveiled sculpture made to celebrate ‘mother of feminism,’ Mary Wollstonecraft, has met with backlash due to naked female figure included in the design. 

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!