The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair was the main destination for families over the weekend.
Thousands streamed through the gates of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre to land a bargain, talk to a publisher or listen to guest authors. Eclectic genres and international literary voices were present throughout the day.
The British and American poets Tishani Doshi and Bahareh Amadi teamed up at one of the festival stages, The Tent, where both performed selections from their works accompanied by an acoustic guitar.
Doshi bewitched the audience as she stood and gave a passionate performance of her Ode to Drowning, lifted from her collection In Spirited Poems.
“For there is no love without music,” she said. “No rain without peacocks perched in branches of sandalwood, trees with plumes of angels and voices of thieves pleading for their loves to return.”
The Sundanese novelist Amir Tag El Sir spent time in the Signatures Corner autographing copies of his surrealistic novels, including The Dowry of Cries and The French Perfume.
Launched this year, the Signatures Corner proved to be a hit with festival-goers. Where other festivals often employ ushers to speed up the process, the fair’s version was more homely as readers were offered a chair and a few minutes to chat with each author.
The fact that some popular authors were assigned multiple signature sessions assured tempers were not frayed and readers received quality time with each writer.
However, it was not only readers the fair catered to: seasoned publishers attended to discuss the latest industry developments.
Anyone discarding those sessions as purely specialist affairs would be mistaken. Some sessions from the fair’s Professional Programme revealed fascinating insights into the rise of graphic novels in the Arab reading world and how literary mobile phone applications could be the next great venture for Middle East publishers.