The Sharjah International Book Fair, which has taken as its motto this year "There's always a right book," will feature Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, as its keynote speaker. He will be joined at the fair, which runs November 3 to 13, by Indian author Amitav Ghosh; Alex Pina, creator of Netflix's hit Spanish crime series Money Heist; and American author Chris Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happyness. Key Arabic language authors scheduled to appear include Waciny Laredi and Ahlam Mosteghanemi from Algeria, as well as Saudi singer and poet Khalid Abdulrahman. In all, some 85 Arabic language and international authors will be participating in this year's fair.
In addition to authors, a robust program has been created for publishing professionals, one that includes a keynote address celebrating 125 years of the International Publishers Association, with Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the IPA. This will be followed by a talk discussing how the IPA's International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience (Inspire) initiative is supporting industry recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Other sessions will look at different Arabic markets around the world; discuss the boom in independent publishing and digital education in Africa; and highlight the work of publishers from Spain, this year's guest of honor country.
As for getting this year's Nobel winner for the event, fair director Ahmed Al Ameri, told a press conference in Sharjah that it was an exciting time to have the author, especially as he will be appearing in person and not virtually. "It will be Gurnah’s first-ever panel since he was honored with a Nobel Prize," Al Ameri said. "All of the authors participating in the book fair will be with us here in Sharjah."
In all, the fair reports that approximately 1,500 publishers from 83 countries will participate in the book fair, which is the strongest participation in the fair's 40 years. Egypt will have the largest constituency, with 293 publishing houses represented, reported The National. The UAE will have the second highest number, at 240. Spain will be represented by 14 companies, including Lantia, publisher of Publishers Weekly en Español. The countries of Cameron, Colombia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe will all be participating for the first time.