'Coming Home' by Annabel Kantaria
Evie has been away from home long enough to bury the pain that shaped her childhood. Now, with the sudden death of her father, she must return. Back to the same house. Back to the memories. Back to her mother.
At first, coming home feels unexpectedly comforting. But, as she goes through her father’s files, Evie uncovers a secret that opens old wounds and changes her life forever. That’s only the beginning. As Evie’s world starts to shatter around her, she realises that those she loves most are also those capable of the deepest betrayal.
A powerful, poignant novel, Coming Home is perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty.
Extra: World Exclusive!
Come and meet Annabel Kantaria author of 'Coming Home' a gripping new novel that also features Dubai! Annabel will be at Magrudy's Al Wahda store, Abu Dhabi this Saturday May 2, from 3-4pm for book signing. This is an event not to be missed!
'The Gulf Wife: A Memoir' by Jocelyn Henderson
Since she first arrived in the Trucial States with her husband, British diplomat Edward Henderson, Jocelyn Henderson has seen the region transform beyond all recognition. Set against the backdrop of cataclysmic wars and events that came to shape her life, 'The Gulf Wife' tells the story of Jocelyn’s remarkable life, her relationships with the families of the ruling Sheikhs, and the people she met along the way.
From tumultuous political developments to meetings with celebrities and international statesmen, The Gulf Wife is a window into the life of one of the UAE’s most prominent expatriates and an intimate look at life in the UAE and all that has changed.
'Generation Z: Their Voices Their Lives' by Chloe Combi
Generation Z have never had to save their pocket money to buy an album. They laugh when you tell them there used to be four channels on TV. Not many of them have grandparents that fought in a war. They've never known a world without the internet and have grown up with violence and porn at their fingertips with an object barely known to just one generation before them: a mobile phone.
Generation Z are growing up in a world of widening social inequality, political apathy and economic uncertainty. They join gangs, are obese, have underage sex, drink, commit crime and are a menace to society - or so the media leads us to believe.
Chloe Combi has interviewed hundreds of teenagers and children born between 1994 and 2005. She has talked to some of the richest and poorest in kids in the country. She has travelled on night buses with gangs, gone on a post-GCSE trip to Glastonbury, hung out in crack houses where teenagers get high, rehabilation centres where they get help and churches where they find God.
Chloe has found that Generation Z are selfish, violent, scared, sex-obsessed and apathetic. She has also found them delightful, curious, kind, and worried about their futures.
Generation Z is an emotional, illuminating, sometimes dark, sometimes hilarious odyssey through the lives of this generation told in their own voices.
Extra Reading: Hard-core porn, violent YouTube videos and live sex shows: A devastating new book reveals the terrifying truth about what teens really get up to on their laptops and smart phones (by Chloe Combi for The Daily Mail)
'Love & Justice: A Compelling True Story Of Triumph Over Tragedy' by Diana Morgan Hill
At the age of 29, Diana Hill fell under a London train. In 7 seconds the tall, glamorous businesswoman went from busy woman of the world with everything to live for to double-leg-amputee, her life in ruins.
Then it got worse. A few days after her accident, as she lay in hospital, traumatised and heavily sedated, she learnt via a newspaper article that the railway's Transport Police were to interview "The Fall Girl", as the Press had labelled her, with a view to prosecution. She had boarded a moving train, they said, and trespassed onto their railway line.
Her fight for justice took five years and was, she declares with no hesitation, a more harrowing experience than having both of her legs 'stolen' from her. As any young, single woman would be, Diana was shocked to the core by the sudden, catastrophic change in her body image. What man would ever love her now?
The issues surrounding sexuality and disability are explored here with stark honesty as she recalls her complicated love life, the High Court dramas, and the rawness of her pain amidst a turmoil of emotion, all told with tremendous humour, charm and heart. For Diana loves to tell stories. Especially true ones. A brutally honest, heartwarming memoir that shocks and delights in equal measure - when you're not crying for her you're laughing with her.
Extra Reading: 'I lost both my legs under a train - then the rail company sued me!' Diana Morgan-Hill was rushing to meet a friend when, in a split second, her life changed forever
Who Says Reading Is Boring?
Here are some funky accessories to make reading not only more fun but fashionable as well!
All products were photographed at Virgin Megastore in Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi with my ever-glamorous shopping buddy for the day Sharon P.
IPAF Shortlisted authors Lined Up For Series of Abu Dhabi Appearances Ahead of Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Next Week
The six shortlisted International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) authors will soon arrive in Abu Dhabi to take part in a number of events prior to the announcement of the winner on May 6th; the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair which will open its doors to the public from 7-13 May.
Atef Abu Saif, Ahmed Madeeni, Jana Elhassan, Lina Hawyan Elhassan, Shurki Mabkhout and Hammour Ziada will take part in a panel discussion entitled: Arabic Fiction Now: A Conversation with the IPAF 2015 Shortlisted Authors at 6:30 pm on May 4th at New York University Abu Dhabi. The authors will discuss the status of the novel in the Arab World, as well as the relationship between fiction and politics. They will examine the question of fiction as an alternate window into the state of society in this dynamic, restless region. The panel discussion will be moderated by Marilyn Booth, Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary World, University of Oxford.
Emirates Writers Union Event:
On May 5th at 8 pm, the authors will take part in an open seminar organized by the Emirates Writers Union at the National Theatre. During the session, the authors will discuss their shortlisted novels as well as Arabic literature in general.
Eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2015:
The six authors, as well as the 2014 judges, trustees and guests of the Prize, will attend the winner announcement ceremony on May 6, the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
by Rana Asfour
This is the story of Rachel, an alcoholic who drinks to the point of blackouts, and is prone to drunk dialling her ex-husband's house in which he lives with his current wife Anna and their baby daughter Evie, ranting and screaming hysterically. Rachel's relationship with her drink has cost her a marriage, friends, a job and soon the only place she can call home.
Rachel has lied to her roommate about her work situation. So each and every day, she wakes up and takes the 8:04 train from Ashbury into London and spends the day wandering aimlessly until it's time to take the 17.56 train back home. Her daily commute passes just behind her old neighbourhood where she used to live blissfully with her husband. Now, unable to look at her house because of the hurt it brings back of her husband's infidelity, she has become fixated on the goings on in house number 15 that she can see into from the train. Every time the train stops, she imagines the 'perfect' life being lived by the 'perfect couple' she passes everyday. She assigns them names, and imagines what they do for a living and what they talk about in their 'perfect' world. They become her golden couple and part of her everyday life.
However, Rachel wasn't always this over-weight, alcoholic, down-trodden, disillusioned woman. She blames Anna, the woman who stole Rachel's husband from her. Anna who now lives in the same house that Rachel and her husband, Tom, bought together, sleeping in the same bed and using the same furniture. Understandably, the two don't get along and Anna is desperate to get rid of Rachel once and for all especially after an incident that has terrified Anna into believing that Rachel is not only a danger to Anna herself but also to little Evie.
Soon Rachel's world is turned upside down when she learns of the disappearance of Megan, the woman in house 15! Rachel believes she can help find her and is adamant that whatever happened to Megan is linked to events during one of her blackouts and so tries time and time to remember with no success. Memories of a dress, a car, a red-haired man, and a struggle pop up in her dreams, and even during her drunken episodes but she cannot connect all the dots and is therefore unable to create any logical sequence to the events or any explanation to why she would actually know anything. But we do know she was there at the train station where Megan was last seen. However, when she goes to the police, even they dismiss her as a disillusioned alcoholic and a 'rubbernecker'.
However, Rachel persists. Both with her drinking and with her sleuthing to find out what could have happened to Megan on 'that' night; She soon meets and befriends the other half of the 'perfect couple' in house number 15; the 'perfect husband' Scott and lies to him about having known Megan before she disappeared. She makes an appointment to see Megan's therapist believing him to be directly responsible for Megan's disappearance. She cannot bring herself to believe that Scott could ever harm Megan because she 'knows' and 'seen' how much he loves her.
Rachel's depressed moods and sense of loss serve to intensify and justify her drinking binges. Her life spirals out of control with excessive drinking hindering her perception of what's real and what's imagined, what happened and what didn't happened. As the lines blur, the reader is taken backwards and forwards in time as Rachel, Anna, and Megan narrate the events that lead the reader to the final whodunnit!
For all those of you who loved 'Before I Go to Sleep' by SJ Watson or the more recent 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn, this one is for you. It is a nail-biting, intense, quick-paced and very well-written, thriller. It's only downside is that it does sadly come on the heels of a string of very successful thrillers so I was able to figure out the culprit long before the ending and yet that did not detract from my enjoyment. I remained gripped until the end. A very good debut and I highly recommend it!
Book News Round-up
Diary About the Armenian Genocide in Animation
A hundred years have passed since the ‘Armenian Genocide’ took place in 1915. As further proof of the atrocities committed at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the BBC’s Rengin Arslan and Khashayar Joneidi have uncovered a very important witness in Istanbul: the diary and writings of contemporary Iranian author Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh.
According to the report, Jamalzadeh, was one of several Iranian nationalists working in Ottoman-controlled Baghdad at the time. It was World War I and as the British approached Baghdad, Jamalzadeh decided to leave Baghdad and head to Istanbul. It was on the way there that he witnessed the atrocities he later described as ‘brutal and shocking’ towards the Armenians.
According to the BBC, Jamalzadeh’s diary remains one of the most important accounts of what happened particularly that it was penned by someone not directly involved in the conflict as most recordings and writings in existence are of surviving Armenian relatives.
The animation is by Morteza Rakhtaala. You can see it HERE.
Brush Up On Middle East Politics
This found its way to my desk over the weekend:
‘A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle that Shaped the Middle East’ by James Barr is one I am really looking forward to reading in the next few weeks.
Published in the UK in 2011, James Barr uses recently declassified papers from the British and French archives and depicts the covert, deadly war of intrigue and espionage between Britain and France to rule the Middle East.
James Barr has worked for the Daily Telegraph, in politics and in the City, and has travelled widely in the Middle East. During the research of the book he was a visiting fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Barr is the author of ‘Setting the Desert on Fire: a history of T.E. Lawrence and the secret war in Arabia’.
What's on the back cover:
In 1916 two men secretly agreed to divide the Middle East between them. Sir Mark Sykes was a visionary politican; François Georges-Picot as diplomat with a grudge. They drew a line in the sand from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier, and together remade the map of the Middle East, with Britain’s ‘mandates’ of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and France’s in Lebanon and Syria.
Over the next thirty years a sordid tale of violence and clandestine political manoeuvring unfolded, told here through a stellar cast of politicians, diplomats, spies and soldiers, including T.E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle.
Here We Go Again: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Back in the Headlines!
By now you’ve probably read the books, watched the film so now prepare to hear incessant news about the upcoming film sequel that’s being lined up for the screen.
According to Stuff.co.nz the writing of the sequel ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ will be done co-jointly between author EL James and her husband, Niall Leonard, who is an author and screenwriter whose credits include the television shows Monarch of the Glen and Wire in the Blood and the crime fiction books Crusher.
Why is this even news? Because it has been reported that EL James has gathered up a reputation for being quite the control freak wanting to write the screenplay to the movies herself. She might have figured that it’s OK if it’s husband doing the co-writing, although it’s possible she’ll still have her way yet with hubby on the job.
Weekend Reading Sorted Right HEre!
Feeling inspired to kick back this weekend with a good book and don't know what titles to go for? Well, we thought we'd help with some inspiring titles.
Tonight is World Book Night, an annual celebration of books that takes place on April 23 in the UK. World Book Night brings together a powerful collaboration of UK partners – publishers, printers, distributors, libraries, booksellers, private donors, trusts and foundations – to inspire more people to read. Thousands of volunteers share their love of reading by giving out books to people in their communities who, for whatever reason, don’t read for pleasure or own books. National, regional and local events up and down the country celebrate the difference that reading makes to people’s lives.
Here's the 2015 list of choices:
'All the Light We Cannot See', a novel by multiple award winner Anthony Doerr has been announced as this year's recipient of the Pultizer Prize for Fiction.
It is a beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
When Marie Laure goes blind, aged six, her father builds her a model of their Paris neighbourhood, so she can memorise it with her fingers and then navigate the real streets. But when the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, is enchanted by a crude radio. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that ultimately makes him a highly specialised tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
American Anthony Doerr is the author of the story collections 'Memory Wall' and 'The Shell Collector', the novel 'About Grace', and the memoir 'Four Seasons in Rome'. He has won numerous prizes both in the US and overseas, including four O. Henry Prizes, three Pushcart Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize.
Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2015 Kicks Off Tomorrow with top names in children’s literature
Well-known international illustrators including Rosemary Wells, legendary American illustrator, Alex T.Smith and Barbara McClintock also from the US, are taking part this year. Eminent academics will also be participating with appearances from Jordanian author, Haya Saleh, winner of various academic and cultural awards; Kuwaiti academic Kafia Ramadan, Professor at the Department of Curricula and Pedagogy at Kuwait University and Bahraini author and journalist, Ebrahim Bashmi.
This is the seventh edition of the festival and it will include 2028 events and activities in literature, science, art, recreation, in addition to educational, health, and awareness activities, organised by a group of prominent local, Arab and international institutions specialised in children activities.
Others taking part include Egyptian author Ahmad Khaled Tawfeeq; Moroccan author Dr. Souad Miskeen, Professor at Abdulmalik Al Saadi University; Editor in Chief of Egyptian 'Sameer' Magazine, Dr. Shaheera Khalil; Omani author and academic Fatima Allawati, a specialist in talented youth education; Egyptian veteran poet Ahmad Sweilim; Yemeni author and painter Ebtisam Jarallah; Saudi author, Faraj AL Dhufairi, editor in chief of Makki magazine and former editor in chief of 'Bassim' magazine; Egyptian author, novelist and playwright Mahmoud Kassim, editor in chief of children's books at Hilal Publishing.
Egyptian author Amal Farah, winner of the UNESCO Tolerance Award in Children Books in 2002 will be there and Egyptian author, Abduh Al Zarra, member of the Children’s Culture Committee at the Higher Council for Culture will also be taking part. Finally, appearances will be made by author, Abdulqahir Al Hamidi, Deputy General Manager of Early Childhood Development Center at the Yemini Ministry of Education; Egyptian children’s show writer Amro Samer Atif; Egyptian author, Samah Abu Bakr Izzat, Palestinian-German author Naeema Holman and author, Hessa Al Awadi, Head of the Department of Children Programmes at Qatar Radio.
For further details on the guests for 2015, click HERE.
Source: SCRF press release
The Resuscitation Theatre of Abu Dhabi bring Shakespeare's 'The Comedy Of Errors' To The Stage
This year, the very talented members of The Resuscitation Theatre in Abu Dhabi take on Shakespeare by bringing to the stage 'The Comedy of Errors' which is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays. It is also his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies. It was first performed on December 28, 1594, as part of the Christmas festivities.
'A Comedy of Errors' tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus.
When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities leads to wrongful beatings, adventure, romance, and suspense in a play that while not one of shakespeare's masterpieces can be said to be both clever and original and still popular today.
Launched in 2002, the Resuscitation Theatre is an innovation company founded by Maggie Hannan. It exists as a type of defibrillator for classic texts: beloved literature of the past is reworked into modern forms that are accessible to contemporary audiences.
In Abu Dhabi, Resuscitation Theatre has explored a new initiative: the meshing of Arab and English culture. Nowhere was this more in evidence than in its recent production of The Rivals, as part of Abu Dhabi Festival. 'The costume blend and Emiratisation of the text created a truly unique form of theatre'. Check out their Facebook page HERE.
'The Comedy of Errors' will show at Abu Dhabi Emirates Writers Union housed in the National Theatre (17th St, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, Tel: 02 401 2066) on April 22, 23 & will also be playing at the Abu Dhabi Art Hub in Mussafah on April 25 & 29. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Health Advocate Racha Zeidan Offers Simple Formula For WEight Loss: 'Burn More than You Eat'!
by Rana Asfour
Thursday night, health conscious individuals gathered at the Salwa Zeidan Art Gallery to listen to a talk by author and photographer Racha Zeidan whose book, ‘Great Body No Diet’, is based on her personal experience and journey with food.
In 2006, prompted by an exasperation brought on by her friends moaning after every meal and also fed up with the questions regarding how she ‘eats all that food and still manages to maintain a great figure’, she decided to launch a series of emails addressed to her friends offering advice and tips she had garnered from her readings and research.
The result of these emails was the emergence of an idea for a book. However, it took Zeidan another four years of further research until she managed to sit down and write the book. ‘Great Body No Diet’ was finally published in 2013 and has since then travelled the globe.
According to Racha Zeidan, the formula to staying fit is quite straightforward, ‘Burn more than you eat’ How? Easy: by make exercise part of your lifestyle.
‘The book’s title says no dieting is involved, but doesn’t say anything about ‘no exercise’ for a reason: because I believe that exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle. The good news is that laziness is more of a thought than a physical problem. Meaning that once the mind decides to be active the body will get up and get moving. It is the best way not only to lose the weight but also to maintain that loss’.
In the book, Zeidan writes that one of the discoveries in her life for a long-term solution to the matter of sticking to an exercise program is ‘a less intense workout routine that can easily be managed’ and which takes into consideration your current level of fitness as well as your busy schedule so that it may be sustainable in the long run. Exercise goals should be ‘realistic and comfortable, meaning it should fit into your busy schedule, complement your life, and the results should not be painful or exhausting’.
On the benefits of water, Zeidan has dedicated an entire chapter. She stipulates that we should drink water either 10 minutes before or 45 minutes after meals as water may interfere with digestion. She urges people to drink water before eating ‘anything at all’. One of the benefits for this she writes is that ‘the water has more space to flow right in, and every bite gets plenty of water to dilute it, as opposed to water trying to dilute an entire lump of food’.
In general, Zeidan’s book is written in an easy-to-follow format and is designed in a way that makes it easy for the reader to keep up. It is a no-nonsense, logical look at how a healthy lifestyle is not that allusive. It is within the grasp of anyone once they consciously take steps to alter a thought here and an action there. That being healthy should never only be about how we look but that it should be about strengthening and nurturing the body as well as the mind.
Racha Zeidan is a Lebanese photographer and author raised in the United Arab Emirates. She earned her Business Management degree from London’s Webster University and worked in marketing and contemporary art in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As a world traveler, conscious of emerging health trends, Zeidan has become an advocate for healthy living and a coach to those seeking weight management.
Conventional wisdom is that diets provide the only path to weight loss. Though diets may work temporarily, they are not long-term solutions. They only serve to restrict freedom and diminish the pleasure of eating.
'Great Body No Diet' is a manual for safe and satisfying eating practices, made up the right thoughts and actions to lose or maintain weight at will, without following a specific diet or a strict exercise program.
The book's method is simple and offers a fresh perspective on how to achieve and maintain a healthy body using practical solutions that complement your active lifestyle.
Restore your confidence and energy for life while relying on your own logic to manage your meals in today's food abundance, free of calorie calculation, food restrictions, post-meal guilt, pills, pre-planned meals or weight-loss surgeries.
For more information on Racha Zeidan, click HERE.
Weekend Special: Q & A With Professor Rehan Khan On His Debut Fantasy Novel 'Last Of The Tasburai'
by Rana Asfour
Professor Rehan Khan was born in Wimbledon, in 1971. As a child he loved listening to swashbuckling tales of heroism and valour, as well as dabbling in science fiction. His debut novel is 'Last of the Tasburai' (check out the BookFabulous review HERE).
As his day job, Rehan is the Regional Consulting Director in the MENA region, for a FTSE 100 corporation. He has more than twenty years of experience and has worked across a number of industries including: telecoms, media, technology, real estate, private equity and executive education.
Khan is also a Professor of Management at HULT International Business School. Between 2009-10, Rehan was a business columnist for 'The National' newspaper in the UAE. He also holds a master’s degree in applied social and market research, as well as an MBA in strategy. He lives in Dubai, with his wife and two children.
BookFabulous: 'Last of the Tasburai’ is your debut novel. So, what was the inspirational moment/event that marked itself to be the moment you decided to start writing a book and so to become a writer?
Rehan Khan: I suppose it kicked off in 2009 when my daughter, who was six years old at the time, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Clearly she didn’t appreciate that going to an office every day was work! I remember writing a column in 'The National' on 9th November 2009 entitled “What I want to be when I grow up”. It was around this time that I started planning in earnest for the 'Last of the Tasburai'. I attended the Oxford University Summer School for Adults in 2010 and remember sitting under the shadow of Oxford’s medieval castle, scribbling notes about a story centred on courage and valour. It was the genesis for the start of the Tasburai trilogy.
BF: Your book is fantasy fiction. Did you always want to write in this genre and what do you think people don’t quite understand about this genre?
RK: I wrote my first “long” story at the age of nine. We had an American teacher, Mrs Myers, a lovely lady from Beverly Hills, California, who came over to the UK as part of an exchange programme in 1980. Mrs Myers had a wonderful ability to get the most out of the children. She asked us to write a story, anything we wanted. She didn’t give any guidelines beyond that. The entire class returned back to her a couple of well-written paragraphs. I ended up writing about ten pages, with lots of illustrations. My story was about a thief who broke into the home of one of my friends whilst his parents were out and he was alone in the house. My friend had to use all ingenious ways to keep the thief from robbing his parents’ finest jewelry and he eventually laid a cunning trap which caught the thief before he called the police. Now that I think about it, the story sounds like a treatment for the movie 'Home Alone'. Mrs Myers was from Hollywood California and perhaps my idea reached the ears of a movie executive!
Since then I’d been tinkering with stories of many genres but eventually settled on fantasy fiction, as I felt it allowed me to bring together many themes which I’d been experimenting with in my other works. Some of these themes - such as courage and the golden mean, worked really well when I tied them together with a group of elite warriors (the Tasburai).
With the success of writers like George R Martin, the landscape is changing and more readers ‘get’ fantasy fiction. Additionally many of the well-known fantasy stories, such as the 'Lord of the Rings', have made it to the screen and so have re-shaped peoples perceptions.
BF: What would you say your book is about?
RK: Aristotle’s four virtues – wisdom, courage, temperance (moderation) and justice have always appealed to me. I wanted to write a story in which courage was placed at the centre. So for Aristotle when courage was in the golden mean it came across as valour and being able to control one's anger, so a person would appear dignified. When courage was unbalanced in a person on the side of excess, it became recklessness and arrogance. When on the side of deficit, it led to cowardice and meanness.
So it got me thinking what would happen if the very best people in society, individuals who others looked up to, admired, wanted to be like, what if these people developed a misplaced notion of courage? So rather than being dignified they became reckless and arrogant. What would be the implications for society?
From this concept the idea for the Tasburai warrior emerged. In my mind the Tasburai were the best of the people – an elite selfless warrior class who held deeply mystical beliefs. I like to describe the Tasburai as a cross between Japanese Samurai, with their bushido (the way of the warrior) and Sufi mystics, with their ideas on tasawuf (spiritual development and cleansing the heart).
So the deeper meaning behind the story was the journey human beings take to return to the golden mean, because when we are in the mean, though we’re all different we can connect with other human beings. Whereas when individuals go to the extreme, it polarises and splits society.
BF: We know that the land of Avantolia is a made up place, yet it is situated by the Caspian Sea; an area in the real world that has been witness to a lot of history (particularly in the Caucasus region). Has your writing drawn inspiration from any of that?
RK: Yes. Avanotolia is loosely based on Anatolia, the old name for Turkey. Many of the names of places in the novel have Anatolian or Hellenistic (Greek) origins.
BF: The book has quite a long list of characters, some with quite unfamiliar names and each with a very unique personality. How did you go about choosing the names of the characters (was it by liking the way they sound or possibly by meaning?) and then deciding how each one would act?
RK: The meaning of the names was very important to me. Though they may be unfamiliar in sound, if readers are interested and do some research they’ll find historical reference points for every name that is used in the novel. So to give you a few examples:
Suri-Yi, who is a Tasburai grandmaster and one of the protagonists, her name originates from Suri (Princess or Red Rose in Persian) and Yi (Chinese for justice or harmony). Naram-Sin, one of the antagonists, has his name originating from Naram-Sin who was the first Akkadian/ Mesopotamian king known to have claimed divinity for himself (2254-2218 BCE). He was the grandson of Sargon (another character on the novel) of Akkad.
I’ll leave the readers with the delightful task of tracing the origins of the other names of people, items and places. I’d love to hear from readers to see if they’ve tracked down all of the origins!
BF: Were there any particular challenges you encountered while writing ‘Last of the Tasburai’?
RK: The writing process took four years and the most challenging aspect for me was trying to find authentic character voices. As there are five main protagonists, this proved to be quite a task. I didn’t want all the characters sounding the same. So it ended up taking me two years to find the voice of each character.
BF: Is it true that some characters take on a life of their own regardless of what the author wants them to do? If so, which character did you have the least influence over in ‘Last of the Tasburai’? Any favourites or possibly least favourite?
RK: With respect I’m not sure about that. Every character is created in the imagination of the author and if the author wanted to kill the character off in the next chapter, they could do it quite easily.
Suri-Yi remains my favourite character, because she is the last of the Tasburai and I found it easiest to sink into her persona. There are no characters who I’d say are least favourite, because each of the characters brings exciting elements to the story and without them being there we wouldn’t have conflict which creates dramatic and emotional moments in the novel.
BF: Why did you decide to present ‘Last of the Tasburai’ as a series rather than as one book?
RK: I always planned it as a trilogy because there was so much to tell and one book would end up being over one thousand pages.
BF: Are you happy with the way the book has been received and what has been the most memorable comment regarding your work from readers?
RK: The initial professional reviews have been very positive, as have the reader comments on Amazon. I suppose the most memorable comments have been those that have likened my work to globally known established authors.
BF: What surprises can we expect for book 2 of the series? And when do you think it will be ready?
RK: I’ve started the writing process and it will be another year before it’s out. As for surprises, it wouldn’t be a surprise if I revealed it!
BF: What books(s) are you reading now?
RK: I tend to mix my reading between one work of fiction and then one work of non-fiction. So I’m presently reading “Happiness: Lessons from a New Science” by Richard Layard and prior to that I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
The BAILEYS Women’s Prize for Fiction is one of the most respected, most celebrated and most successful literary awards in the world. An annual award, it celebrates the very best full length fiction written by women throughout the world.
The 2015 shortlist was announced yesterday, Tuesday, and the winner will be announced on June 3rd.
Rachel Cusk – 'Outline'
Laline Paull – 'The Bees'
Kamila Shamsie – 'A God in Every Stone'
Ali Smith – 'How to be Both'
Anne Tyler – 'A Spool of Blue Thread'
Sarah Waters – 'The Paying Guests'
Tonight and tomorrow night, Abu Dhabi will play host to a six-member West-End cast that will be showcasing their play 'Rest Upon the Wind' at Al Jaheli Theatre located at the Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
This exciting play is inspired by the life and times of celebrated poet Khalil Gibran, author of 'The Prophet'. The six strong cast play reveals the struggle, conflict and passions surrounding the poet's life. It provides an insight into his environment and the people who have had a strong impact on his life, such as the strong female figures, of Mary Haskell his mentor and his sister Miryanna.
Written by Jordanian-born British actor Nadim Sawalha, the play is a mix of drama and comedy. It boasts an original sound-score from award winning composer Jules Deering, as well as stunning visuals, music and electric performances. For a complete list of the cast, click HERE.
The play will show in Abu Dhabi tonight and tomorrow (14 & 15 April) and will then move to Dubai, April 16-18. Tickets are AED175 & AED250 (VIP). The show starts at 8pm
To purchase tickets, click HERE.
My sister popped round to see me when I was in London last week on her way to Marbella, Spain with my adorable nephew in tow. She came bearing these two delightful books released by Project Pen called 'Jamila's Thread and Other Stories' as well as its Arabic translation "أبو الفول وقصص شعبية أخرى"
The books contain stories of cruelty and love, envy and magic, darkness and cunning; of ogres that transform into little girls, a grey mouse who learns to love, and a boy that becomes a humming bird.
'Jamila's Thread & Other Stories' is a collection of folk stories from the Middle East & Sudan, adapted by Project Pen, for children and adults, that aims according to the book's introduction to 'rediscover the beauty of folk tradition and classical storytelling in the Middle East and Africa'.
There are ten stories in all with my number 1 favourite starting on page 103 (in the English-language copy / 113 in the Arabic copy)!
The English copy is available to download on ibooks and amazonkindle.
Jimmy Coates is a regular 11-year old boy who is suddenly forced to realise that life with his family in the ‘neo Democratic State of Great Britain’ must come to an abrupt end. Jimmy himself has also changed: he develops sensations that start at the pit of his stomach forcing him to think and do things out of his control; He can sense things more acutely, his reflexes are magnified, he can run and swim faster than he ever could before, he is stronger, able to execute perfect martial arts moves he never even knew he possessed and he can even fly a helicopter. The bad news though is that he is now on the run from people who he believes are out to harm him, his parents have been kidnapped, he’s not sure where his sister is and every time he asks for anyone’s help, he puts their life in danger too. And worst of all? He can’t trust anyone.
This is a fantastic, fast-paced book that is gripping from its first pages when things quickly begin to kick off as soon as a group of suited men arrive at Jimmy’s house one evening demanding to see him. His mum shouts ‘run Jimmy’ and that is exactly what he does, but not before he sees his parents placed into a black van with a green stripe and driven away. Everything about Jimmy’s old life is officially over. Along the way Jimmy meets an interesting character called Mitchell and gets a private audience with Ares Hollande, the British Prime Minister. In a horrific twist of events Jimmy is ordered to assassinate a certain Christopher Viggo if he is to save his family.
Thankfully, Jimmy is not alone. With the help of a few loyal and very brave friends like Felix Muzbeke (who is a smart and very funny character), Eva and others he meets along the way, Jimmy not only gets the help he needs but also manages to uncover a whole web of intricate lies, intrigue, suspense, and spies to boot. Ultimately Jimmy has to deal with the biggest revelation of all: who he really is and how that will affect not only the outcome of the mission he has been tasked with but with making sure his family and friends remain safe in the process.
‘Jimmy Coates: Killer’ is an adventurous, thought-provoking thriller that is also about friendship, family, loyalty, humanity and the decision to do the right thing when all that is expected of you is to do otherwise. It was written in 2005 by British writer Joe Craig and is the first book in the Jimmy Coates’ series. In the US it is published under the title ‘Jimmy Coates: Assassin’. It was a finalist for the 2006 Manchester Book Award, and won the Bolton Children's Book Award 2006.
As most of you are aware, the site has not been functional for approximately two weeks now. The issues, due to certain technical difficulties, have now been resolved thanks to superb team effort. I am happy to announce that the site will be back to business as usual as of tomorrow, April 12!
See you with more book news and events!
Rana Asfour :)
How to Write a Book Review
by Rana Asfour
A review is really just a fancy term we use to describe the act of telling people whether we like something or not. Writing a review can seem scary or hard at first but the more your practice, the better you become and soon you’ll realise that it can be real fun too.
Reviews can be as simple or as elaborate, as short or as long as you like, but the main thing to keep in mind is that any review should be clear, accurate, with emphasis on constructive criticism. Refrain from using bad language or insulting terms and remember that any work you choose to discuss is the product of someone’s long hours and hard work.
Here are a few tips to set you on your way:
Here are questions to help you while reviewing a book. Try to answer them as accurately as you can without giving too much away. Keep the suspense.
This article first published in Mintaad.com