Looking to continue to celebrate and promote books and reading during the pandemic, literary organizations in the U.K and the United Arab Emirates are launching virtual book festivals. In the U.K. a nonprofit collective of writers is launching BookBound 2020, a free online literary festival that will run from April 27 to May 3. And in the UAE, the Sharjah Book Authority will launch the Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival, which will run from May 27 to June 5.

BookBound 2020 will feature a lineup of writers presented via its YouTube channel. Among the virtual festival’s confirmed guests are former Young People’s Poet Laureate for London Caleb Femi, American author Daniel Mallory Ortberg, and young adult author Michelle Paver. Others set to appear include children’s book author Jasbiner Bilan, debut authors Patience Agbabi, Ernestos Cisneros and Esther Kent, and such emerging authors as poet Jennifer Wong, YA author Intisar Kahanani and feminist writer Lola Olufemi.

Writer and founder of BookBound 2020 Georgie Codd said “BookBound 2020 is not a typical literary festival. It has been rapidly created by a small group of authors and book-lovers, entirely in response to these strange and unprecedented times. Our dedicated team of volunteers has been heartened to see how keen authors throughout the U.K, and across the world, have been to get involved, freely offering their time to speak about writing, books and life during this period of. isolation.”

Organized by the Sharjah Book Authority, which also organizes the annual Sharjah International Book Fair, The Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival will feature a variety of online literary and cultural sessions and interactive workshops targeting different age groups and communities and will be hosted by Arab and international authors. Further details of SVRF registration criteria and participation will be announced at a later date.

Chairman of SBA HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri said, “The Sharjah Virtual Reading Festival offers a unique digital platform for intellectuals and creative minds from around the world to connect remotely, celebrate the full diversity of humanity’s cultural expressions, and share experiences and knowledge, even as the world works to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.”