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KT edit: Literature is not a luxury, but a necessity

Ambiguity is also at the heart of the Sharjah International Book Fair that kickstarts today. In fact, the fair celebrates it.



Published: Tue 29 Oct 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Oct 2019, 10:04 PM

Not too long ago, those who were studying literature were often considered children of a lesser god (remember parents who'd drool over sciences and humanities?). The notion was that literature - in any language - is akin to reading a storybook, a momentary escape from the perils of the real world. Cut to present, literature is not a luxury, but a necessity. In a world where news and views are truncated into a few characters, literature has no easy answers for the modern world and its many problems. To quote the Booker winning author and activist Arundhati Roy, its job is to simplify the complicated and complicate the simple. In that sense, book fair and literature festivals further offer that rare opportunity to engage with minds that have made their peace with ambiguity.
Ambiguity is also at the heart of the Sharjah International Book Fair that kickstarts today. In fact, the fair celebrates it. This year's edition features some stellar names, such as Orhan Pamuk, Vikram Seth, and Steve Harvey, among a host of other authors from all over the world. Ordinarily, lit fests have often been reduced to networking spaces, where talks, discussions, and debates do not exactly precede the need to connect with the swish set. SIBF, unarguably one of the biggest lit fests in the region, has built a strong legacy of inviting writers who are as evocative as they are provocative.
Pamuk obviously is the main attraction, along with Seth. Author of acclaimed books such as Istanbul, Snow, My Name is Red, The Museum of Innocence, among others, Pamuk is one of the most incisive voices of our time. Seth, a master storyteller, has written one of the most seminal books in contemporary Indian writing in English - A Suitable Boy. The legacy of both the authors is rooted in experimenting with form and register, and that will be the key point of discussion. Along with a host of local authors who aim to talk about contemporary writing in Arabic, this year's edition is likely to be engaging and enriching.
 
 
 


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