Sharjah: The line-up of leading authors visiting Sharjah International Book Fair next month includes American real-life rags-to-riches story Chris Gardner, Nobel Prize for Literature winner Abdul Razak Gurnah, and award-winning Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh, among others.
Gardner’s memoir of his struggles - being homeless while raising his son - was turned into the film ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ played by Hollywood star Will Smith.
The annoucement came during a press conference about SIBF 2021 at the House of Wisdom library in Sharjah on Wednesday.
Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, which organises SIBF, said a longer “huge list of big names” visiting SIBF will be revealed soon.
The 40th edition of the fair, to be held November 3 to 13 at Expo Centre Sharjah, will offer countless books from 1,566 publishers from 83 countries, including from nine nations participating for the first time.
'It all starts with a book'
Al Ameri said: "Over the past 40 years, we have imbibed several key lessons from the vision and efforts His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, on the emirate’s cultural project. The most important among these is: every achievement and every change we strive for starts in the pages a book; every discussion we begin and even the understanding of our history starts with a book.”
He added: “The 40th edition of SIBF is a remarkable cultural milestone for Sharjah and the UAE, through which we want to continue driving our efforts to promote the growth and post-pandemic recovery of the global publishing industry. SIBF 2021 will serve as a catalyst for new readers and a key player in transforming the industry to meet their needs. At the same time, the book fair will offer a platform for authors and researchers to broaden their areas of interest.”
There will also be 970 events and activities including literary discussions, workshops, seminars, cultural shows, concerts, theatre, and more.
This year's SIBF theme is ‘There’s always a right book’, inspired by SBA’s international campaign ‘Into Books’, which has reached over 40 countries since its global unveiling in August.
The fair will follow all precautionary measures for COVID-19. Entrance is open to all at no charge.
Guest of honour
This year’s guest of honour country is Spain. Speaking at Wednesday’s conference, Inigo de Palacio, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the UAE, said Spain’s programme for SIBF 2021 includes nine authors, panel discussions, books, children’s activities and cultural shows.
At Wednesday's press conference, Ambassador Palacio said: "[SIBF] is the most relevant book fair in the Arab region. I’ve been informed that more than 77 countries participated in the 2019 edition, which welcomed over 2 million visitors... These numbers are a testimony to the cultural vi-sion and leadership of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah”.
Palacio thanked Sharjah for accepting LIBER Book Fair 2019’s invitation to be Guest of Honour and said: “Spain is reciprocating Sharjah’s generosity by coming to SIBF 2021 as guest of honour”.
He added: “A highlight of Spain’s guest of honour programme is a high-level visit by our Minister of Culture and Sports. Following SBA’s recent visit to Madrid, this new oppor-tunity will be a significant milestone in Emirati–Spanish cooperation. Through our participation in SIBF 2021, we will be proudly representing not just Spain, but a com-munity of more than 560 million people worldwide,”
Other attendees at the conference included Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director-General of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; Brigadier General Dr Ahmed Saeed Al Naour, Director-General of Central Operations, Sharjah Police; Abdul Aziz Hamad Taryam, CEO Adviser and General Manager, Northern Emirates, Etisalat; and Khoula Al Mujaini, General Coordinator of SIBF.