Shobhaa De Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: In a post-pandemic world that is still reeling from the events of the past two years, there is no room for intolerance, Indian novelist and columnist Shobhaa De said ahead of her appearance at the 31st Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF).

Speaking to Gulf News ahead of her talk at ADIB, which will take place on Saturday, De said: “The pandemic has reminded us about the fragility of human existence. It should have taught all of us to keep our minds open, receptive and compassionate. But different people are reacting differently to a crisis, even in ways that are perhaps shocking, but also connected to mental health [issues] that were themselves triggered by the pandemic.”

‘There is hope’

De said she would love to discuss how we can all best respond to the challenges thrown up by the pandemic.

“We’ve seen so much death and suffering. We have to keep reminding ourselves that there is hope, and that hope lies in being completely and totally open to differences. There is no scope, no room for divisiveness in the world. We need to keep our minds, open, receptive and compassionate. This is what the pandemic should have taught all of us,” she said.

De will be in conversation with presenter-reporter Amandeep Bhangu on Saturday at the ADIBF. She said that platforms like the ADIBF are valuable spaces for the exchange of ideas, especially for youth.

“It is important to start conversations early. Very often when you speak to children, you find them receptive, open-minded, and willing to engage with the outside world. These kinds of interactions [like ADIBF] provide a fantastic platform, and often I learn much more from them than what I imagine I may be imparting as a speaker, a delegate and an author,” she said.

Abu Dhabi debut

It will be the seasoned writer’s first time at ADIBF, although she has previously attended the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, which is organised annually in Dubai.

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Visitors at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2022 Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“It will be my first time in Abu Dhabi and the ADIBF, and it is a priority for me to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. I [also] want to visit the Corniche. I want to meet, dine, chat with local people, because at the end of the day, that is what makes any destination come alive,” De said.

Shashi Tharoor session

Another Indian author, and also politician, Shashi Tharoor, is set to make multiple appearances at this edition of ADIBF. He will discuss global transformations with Emirati author-diplomat Omar Saif Ghobash on Saturday, and his own works on Sunday, the final day of ADIBF.

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Book launches

A number of prominent launches are also scheduled for the last two days of the fair, including the English edition of ‘Dare to Dream: How Mohammed bin Rashid Made His Dreams Come True’ by experienced Arabic editor and journalist, Raed Barqawi.

Japanese calligrapher Fuad Kouichi Honda, who is widely recognised as one of the world’s top Arabic calligraphers, has already launches his new book, ‘Noor Ala Noor’ at the ADIBF. The book was released in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, where a collection of Honda’s work is on display, and it aims to introduce the artists’ work to more people around the world.

Nearly 150,000 people are expected to attend the ADIBF by the time it wraps up on Sunday.