ABUELAISH, IzzeldinPalestine / Canada
Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian Canadian physician and an internationally recognized human rights and inspirational peace activist, through both his research and his charitable organisation The Daughters for Life Foundation. Dr Abuelaish’s book, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, which was published into 23 languages and national and international best seller, is an autobiography of his transformation, inspired by the loss of his three daughters – Bessan, Mayar, and Aya – and their cousin Noor to Israeli shelling on 16 January 2009.
Dr Abuelaish has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he is fondly known as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi and the 'Martin Luther King of the Middle East', having dedicated his life to using health as a vehicle for peace. Dr Abuelaish’s extensive list of awards and honors include countless national and international awards including 14 honorary doctorate degrees, The Order of Ontario, the Meritorious Service Cross, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Governor General’s Medallion, the World Citizenship in Action Award, presented by the Canadian Branch of the Registry; the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award of Canada; the Foundation P&V Citizenship Award; the Calgary Peace Prize; the Lombardy Region Peace Prize, the Stavros Niarchos Prize for Survivorship. He was one of three finalists for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Dr Abuelaish has also been named one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants; one of the 500 Most Powerful Arabs; and one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategies Centre in Jordan for five consecutive years. Currently Dr Abuelaish lives in Toronto where he is an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
Zulaikha Abu Risha is a Jordanian poet, writer, researcher, and columnist. She devotes her writings and efforts to advocate for women’s rights and to counter Islamist ideology in all its forms in the contemporary Islamic movements, which has put her in danger since 1981.
Zulaikha Abu Risha has devoted a lot of her written and cultural efforts for the values of democracy, civil society, dialogue, coexistence, acceptance of others and public freedoms to counteract extremist religious ideological systems and those modelled on reactionary ideas and values, especially those that bear a slogan of penance and treason, and those that hide behind traditions and identity.
In parallel, her feminist intellectual battle was transferred to the Arabic language arena, where she wrote and demanded a non-sexist language that recognises the feminine expressions within the language, in job titles, sites, official documents and in speech. She published two studies on gender and language, which were ranked as two of the first publications in this field in Arabic. During her various roles in education and journalism, she worked to get rid of written materials in the Arabic language that condemn and insult women.Ten poetry collections have been published by Zulaikha, in which she has broken many taboos that were specially designed for women, to forbid them to say anything other than what traditional societies expect from them.
She is a descendant of the 'Abu Risha' family, which is renowned for knowledge, literature, Sufism, and religiosity. Thus, her personality was affected and formed by a number of poets, scholars, and ascetics, who imbued her with eloquent language and progressive knowledge. This is reflected in her poetry, which has risen to a spiritual and sensual dialectic chasing the shadows and details of life.
Zulaikha is an intellectual feminist activist who is still sharing national and international campaigns and movements against corruption, advocating for justice and enlightenment.
Adonis was born Ali Ahmad Said Esber in Qassabin village, Syria, in 1930. He adopted the name Adonis when he was 17. He has been writing poetry for more than 75 years and is referred to as ‘the grand old man of poetry, secularism and free speech in the Arab world’ or as “The man who remade Arabic poetry” – Robyn Creswell in The New Yorker, December 2017. He co-edited the influential Sh'ir poetry magazine and later established and edited the equally important Mawaqif.
He is author of many collections of poetry, and has published works of criticism, essays and translations. He is translated into many languages, including French, Chinese, Spanish, German and Swedish. Works in English translation include Adonis: Selected Poems, An Introduction to Arab Poetics, Sufism and Surrealism, Violence and Islam, Concerto Al-Quds and Songs of Mihyar the Damascene. Other major works are the three-volume Al-Kitab (The Book) and the four-volume Al-Thabit wa al-mutahawwil (The Static and the Dynamic).
Adonis has won numerous awards, including the highest French honour of Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur (2012), Turkey’s Nazim Hikmet Prize (1994), Germany’s prestigious Goethe Prize (Frankfurt, 2011), the US PEN/Nabokov International Literature Lifetime Achievement Award (2017) and China’s Poetry and People Award (2018).
AL ALI, AhmedSaudi Arabia
Ahmed Al Ali is a Saudi poet, editor and translator. He earned his MS degree in Publishing from Pace University in NYC, and was a trainee at Knopf (Penguin Random House) under the supervision of its editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta. He is author of four books including Lavender, Hotel California and As Bob Marley Sings. He has translated many international titles into Arabic, including Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude, and Elif Shafak's Black Milk. As Managing Editor at Kalimat Group's fiction imprint, he introduced to the Arab world James Baldwin, Raymond Carver, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, John Ashbery, Ali Smith, Michael Ondaatje, John Banville, and many more. He was appointed Managing Editor of Sharjah World Book Capital Publications in 2019–2020.
AL BASTAKI, ShammaUnited Arab Emirates
Award-winning poet and artist Shamma Al Bastaki graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a double major in sociology & public policy and literature & creative writing. Ambassador for the Louvre Abu Dhabi since 2015, she was selected for the Salama Bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship. Shamma won the 2019 ADMAF Creativity Award for her ethno-poetry collection House to House |بيت لبيت’, excerpted in the Asymptote Journal of Global Contemporary Literature, and taught in universities and schools across Japan, Taiwan, and the US. As a poet, she has been commissioned by Louvre Abu Dhabi, the UAE Minister of Tolerance, and had a special feature on CNN. She performs on local and international platforms and served on the curatorial committee of Hekayah. Shamma is a founding member of Untitled Chapters, a literary group for women writers, and an inaugural member of the Cultural Office Women’s Creative Network launched by HH Sheikha Manal Bint Monammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum. She recently joined Qasr Al Hosn – DCT.
AL BLOOSHI, DanaUnited Arab Emirates
Dana Al Blooshi is a 14-year-old Emirati author and innovator who is passionate about space, women’s issues, and being a role model for young girls. At the age of nine, she was the youngest Emirati to undergo training courses at NASA, receiving nine certificates in space engineering. Al Blooshi was also honored by several institutions including Beirut Institute and the University of Manchester, among others, for her accomplishments.
Jokha Alharthi was born in 1978 and educated in Oman and the UK. She obtained her PhD in classical Arabic literature from Edinburgh University, and works as associate professor in the Arabic department at Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat. She is author of two collections of short stories, three children’s books, and three novels. She received the Man Booker International Prize, 2019, for the translation of Celestial Bodies, which has been translated to many languages.
AL KHAYAT, MaithaUnited Arab Emirates
AL-KHAYOUN, RasheedUnited Kingdom
Dr. Rasheed Al Khayoun is an Iraqi scholar, cultural editor of various Arab periodicals, writer and lecturer of Islamic philosophy, religion, and history. He holds an MA and PHD in Islamic philosophy and was a teacher of Philosophy in Aden. He travels and lectures across the Arab region and is a voice on contemporary politics and culture. He pens a weekly column for the UAE daily Al-Ittihad in addition to articles in dozens of other newspapers and magazines. Dr. Rasheed is a researcher at Al Mesbar Studies & Research Centre in Dubai. He is also a researcher for the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh.
He has authored and published over 20 books including, The Mutazila Sect from Theology to Philosophy, Mutazilat Al-Basra and Baghdad, Jadal Al Tanzil (the history of the Koran), Bad’a ethan al Fiqh (with the permission of the jurist, a book covering the treatment of women, children and religious dietary restrictions), The History of Co-existence of Religions and Sects in Iraq (3 volumes), and 100 Years of Political Islam in Iraq (2 volumes). Dr. Rasheed won the third King Abdul Aziz Book Award for his book entitled “athr al Sood fi al hazara al Islamiya” (The Impact of Black individuals on Islamic Civilisation) issued by the King Abdul Aziz Public Library in Riyadh. His most recent book entitled “Punishment and Excess in Islamic Jurisprudence and History” has been shortlisted in the upcoming Sheikh Zayed Award 2020 for the category “Contribution to the development of nations.”
AL KHOORI, NouraUnited Arab Emirates
ALMENHALI, AlsaadUnited Arab Emirates
AlMenhaly is an Emirati media personality with 17 years of experience in journalism. She is the current Editor in Chief of National Geographic Al Arabiya magazine. She previously worked as Deputy Editor of Al Ittihad newspaper, and has released several books including The World as a Woman, An Eye on Events and Stories. AlMenhali was awarded the Tarim Omran Tarim Award for best column in 2004 and is a founding member of the Journalists Association. She is also a member of the Emirates Writers Union, and a member of the Geographers Association.
AL MUBARAK, Razan KhalifaUnited Arab Emirates
H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak has devoted her career to environmental conservation. Mrs. Al Mubarak is the Managing Director of the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund – one of the world’s most significant philanthropic endowments supporting species conservation in over 160 countries. Under her leadership, the MBZ Fund has garnered global attention for demonstrating best practice in the sustainability of their endowment-based funding model.
In recognition of her global role in the field of environment and sustainability, in 2018, she was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the top 100 young sector leaders who contribute to building a more sustainable future for humankind.
Razan Al Mubarak also serves as Managing Director of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and Emirates Nature – WWF and currently serves several executive roles in various environmental organisations in the UAE and is a public spokesperson for environmental and conservation issues in the UAE.
AL MURR, MohammedUnited Arab Emirates
Mohammad Ahmad Mohammad Al Murr Al Falasi (born 1955 in Dubai) is a short-story writer from the United Arab Emirates.
He has published over 15 volumes of short stories and has had two collections translated into English: Dubai Tales and The Wink of the Mona Lisa.
Al Murr graduated from Syracuse University in the United States, and has been a member of a number of UAE academic institutions and councils. He is the head of the Dubai Cultural Council, recently reorganized as the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
In 2011 Al Murr was appointed to the Federal National Council's 15th Chapter as a representative of the Emirate of Dubai, and elected uncontested as Speaker. He served as the speaker from 2011 to 2015.
AL MUTAWAA, Asma SiddiqUnited Arab Emirates
AL-ORAIBI, MinaUnited Kingdom
Mina Al-Oraibi is Editor in Chief of The National newspaper, a daily English language regional newspaper based in Abu Dhabi. An Iraqi-British journalist, Mina has over 15 years of experience covering Middle Eastern, European and American affairs. Prior to assuming the role of Editor in Chief of The National, Mina was a Senior Fellow at the Institute for State Effectiveness (ISE) and a Yale World Fellow. At ISE, Mina is working on developing policy recommendations for improved governance in the Middle East and North Africa region, with a focus on Iraq and Syria, in addition to researching ways of redefining the social contract in the Arab world.
Before starting her fellowship at Yale, Mina was Assistant Editor in Chief of Asharq Alawsat, the international Arab-language daily newspaper, from 2011 to 2015. Previous to that, she was the Washington Bureau Chief for the newspaper. She has written extensively on US and European policies in the Middle East, covered diplomatic and security developments of the region, in addition to conducting several high profile interviews including with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iraqi President Barham Salih, Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi and President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim.
Mina has also covered the Geneva talks on Syria, United Nations General Assembly meetings for the last decade. A contributor to numerous publications, Mina is a frequent guest on television and radio news programmes, in addition to moderating events with international organisations, including the World Economic Forum and Chatham House.
Mina is an Advisor to the Global Dignity Day Movement and a member of the International Media Council. She is also a member of the board of trustees of the American University in Iraq – Sulaimani. Mina was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2009. She holds a BA (Hons) and and an MA in Modern History from University College London.
AL RAWI, ShahadIraq
Shahad al Rawi was born in Baghdad in 1986. She holds a PhD in Anthropology and is a writer and novelist. Her first novel The Baghdad Clock went through three printings in the first months of publication, and has been translated into many languages including English. It was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and won the First Novel Prize at Edinburgh International Festival.
AL SHEHHI, JamalUnited Arab Emirates
An Emirati publisher and writer, founder and general manager of Dar Kuttab Publishing 2010, Executive Director of the Arab Children's Program at Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, and Secretary General of the Emirates Award for Fiction.
Al Shehhi established Kuttab Café (cultural café and bookshop) in 2012 at Uptown Mirdiff in Dubai. Uncle Sam & My Self was published, as well as a children's story series (The Dairy of Moshagheb), a weekly column in Al Etihad newspaper, and also in the Gulf News. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences and a Master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse in the United States of America.
ANAM, TahmimaUnited Kingdom
Tahmima Anam is a novelist and anthropologist and author of The Bengal Trilogy. She is the recipient of an O Henry Prize, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Granta Best Young British Novelist.
ANDARY, NezarUnited Kingdom
Nezar Andary is a scholar and filmmaker based in Abu Dhabi. He edits a book series on Arab Cinema for Palgrave where he published a book entitled The Cinema of Muhammad Malas and. His feature film on the Unlocking Doors of Cinema premiered at the Cairo International Film Festival 2019. Previously, Andary conceived and directed the documentary theatre in 2016 Memories of Childhood the premiered in the Abu Dhabi Festival. Andary has written in Arabic on the journalist Anthony Shadid and his relationship to creative non fiction and recently completed a manuscript on the influence of Ibn Khaldun in Contemporary Global Culture. Andary is published in journals like Alif, Banipal, Al-Jadid, Journal of Middle East Studies, Emergences, among others. In February 2020, he was the Artistic Director of the first Alsidr Environmental Film Festival sponsored by Zayed University and the Environmental Agency, Abu Dhabi.
ARDAGH, PhilipUnited Kingdom
2020 is a busy year for Roald Dahl Funny Prize-winning children's author Philip Ardagh. He's celebrating 20 years of his Eddie Dickens adventures, which began with Awful end, translated into over 30 languages; High into clouds, his collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney, is currently in pre-production with Netflix, and he has a variety of new books out over the next 12 months. At 6ft 7in (with a bushy beard), Philip is certainly BIG in the children's book world!
BAHAR, SarahUnited Kingdom
Hoda Barakat is a Lebanese novelist, born in Beirut in 1952. She has worked in teaching and journalism and currently lives in France. She has published six novels, two plays, a book of short stories and a book of memoirs, as well as contributing to books written in French. Her work has been translated into a number of languages. She received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2002 and the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite National in 2008. Her novels include: The Stone of Laughter (1990), Disciples of Passion (1993), The Tiller of Waters (2000) which won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in that year, and My Master and My Lover (2004). Her fifth novel The Kingdom of This Earth (2012) reached the IPAF longlist in 2013. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, given (at that time) every two years to honour a writer’s achievement in fiction. Barakat has featured in Banipal magazine on several occasions, including the publication of excerpts from A Tiller of Water in autumn 2009.
BATAINEH, AfafUnited Arab Emirates
BHANGU, AmandeepUnited Kingdom
Amandeep Bhangu is an international presenter-reporter and filmmaker, with 10 years’ experience working for BBC News in her home city, London.
She’s now based in the UAE and freelances worldwide – with assignments in more than 30 countries, across six continents, for major broadcasters. She has presented, produced and directed special programmes on the UAE for BBC World TV.
BIN SHATWAN, NajwaLibya
Najwa Bin Shatwan is a Libyan academic and novelist. She is author of three novels: Waber Al Ahssina (The Horses' Hair, 2005); Madmum Burtuqali (Orange Content, 2008); and Zareeb Al-Abeed (The Slave Yards, 2016), in addition to collections of short stories, plays and contributions to anthologies. She was chosen as one of the thirty-nine best Arab authors under the age of forty by Hay Festival’s Beirut39 project in 2009. Zareeb Al-Abeed was shortlisted for the 2017 International Award for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). A number of her short stories have been translated into English and published in online literary magazines. Her short story collection Soudfa Jariaa (An Ongoing Coincidence) was longlisted in the 2019 AlMultaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story, and Catalogue of a Private Life won the English PEN Translates grant 2019. Her story The Sharp Bend at Al-Bakur won the ArabLit magazine Story Prize 2019.
BIN ZAAL, KameliaUnited Arab Emirates
After studying landscape garden design at London's renowned Inchbald School of Design, Kamelia returned to Dubai inspired to create intuitive and stylised outdoor living spaces. Shortly thereafter she began her career as a freelance garden designer working on residential villas until she established her own landscape architectural practice, Second Nature, in 2006. Kamelia later formed an association with her family's prestigious property development company, Al Barari, where Second Nature and won the 2014 International Property Award for Best Residential Landscape Architecture, Best Residential Landscape Architecture Arabia and Best Residential Landscape Architecture Dubai.
In 2015 Kamelia Zaal, having served as the Creative Director at Al Barari for eight years, left to relaunched her Design Studio to focus only on landscape design.
In 2013, she was featured on the front cover of The UK Garden Design Journal for her work with Al Barari and several other projects.
In May 2015 Kamelia became the first ever Arab landscape designer to participate at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show winning a silver gilt medal for her garden “The Beauty of Islam”. In 2016, Kamelia won another prestigious Silver Gilt medal at the Gardening World Cup in japan.
Kamelia has now become an advocate for the use of indigenous plants and sustainable landscape design practises. Her goal is to continue HH Sheikh Zayed’s vision to protect and enhance the environment of the UAE and to leave a green legacy for the people of the UAE to enjoy for decades to come.
BOLOOKI, AhlamUnited Arab Emirates
Ahlam Bolooki is Director of the Emirates Festival of Literature – the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. With a mission of inspiring all, including non-readers, to read for pleasure, Ahlam is responsible for devising strategy and curating a diverse, inclusive and enlightening Festival programme. With appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, the Festival attracts fresh ideas, forward thinking and promotes a more empathetic society.
Prior to her role with the Festival, Ahlam was Head of Regional Campaigns at Dubai Tourism – the principal authority responsible for strengthening Dubai’s positioning as a world-leading tourism destination and achieving His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision of attraction 20 million annual visitors to Dubai by the year 2020.
Ahlam also spent over four years working in marketing roles at global hospitality group the Jumeirah Group, during which she oversaw all aspects of marketing and communication for a portfolio of over 60 restaurants in 10 cities worldwide.
BOOKER WINNER TBCUnited Kingdom
BROTTON, JerryUnited Kingdom
Jerry Brotton is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. He is a historian, broadcaster and curator, and author of A History of the World in 12 Maps (Penguin, 2012) and This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World (Penguin, 2016).
BUALI, SheymaUnited Kingdom
Jung Chang is the author of the best-selling books Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (1991), Mao: The Unknown Story (2005 with Jon Halliday), Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China (2013) and Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China (2019). Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.
DALRYMPLE, WilliamUnited Kingdom
William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. City of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D’Astrolabe and White Mughals won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. The Last Mughal was longlisted for the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Delhi.
In 2009, he published Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, a distillation of twenty-five years of exploring India and writing about its religious traditions, taking you deep into worlds that you would never have imagined even existed. His latest book is The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (2019).
Tishani Doshi was born in Chennai. She is an award-winning poet, journalist, essayist and novelist. Doshi has published eight books of fiction and poetry. Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award 2018 and most recently Small Days and Nights (2019), the story of a woman caught in a moment of transformation, and the sacrifices we make to forge lives that have meaning. She is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award for Poetry, winner of the All-India Poetry Competition, and her first book, Countries of the Body, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2006. Her debut novel, The Pleasure Seekers, was shortlisted for the Hindu Literary Prize and longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Doshi is also a professional dancer with the Chandralekha Troupe. Her latest publication is Small Days and Nights (2019).
DU SAUTOY, MarcusUnited Kingdom
Marcus du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He is author of six books including his most recent book The Creativity Code (Fourth Estate 2019). He has presented numerous radio and TV series including a four part landmark TV series for the BBC called The Story of Maths. He received an OBE for services to science in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016.
Dr Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer, former judge, and human rights activist, was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her pioneering efforts to promote the rights of women, children, and political prisoners in Iran. The first Iranian and Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Ebadi has had an extensive legal career, and became Iran’s first female judge when she was just 23 years old. Following the Iranian Revolution, she established a pro-bono law practice and founded the Human Rights Defenders Centre to combat injustices in the legal system. Dr Ebadi has since written numerous texts dedicated to women’s and human rights and helped establish the Nobel Women’s Initiative to promote peace, justice and equality for women.
Born in Nigeria, Inua Ellams is a cross art form practitioner, award-winning poet, playwright and performer, graphic artist and designer and founder of the Midnight Run — an international, arts-filled, night-time, playful, urban, walking experience. He is a Complete Works poet alumni and a designer at White Space Creative Agency. Across his work, identity, displacement and destiny are recurring themes in which he also tries to mix the old with the new: traditional African storytelling with contemporary poetry, pencil with pixel, texture with vector images. His poetry is published by Flipped Eye, Akashic, Nine Arches, and several plays by Oberon. The Half God of Rainfall (2019) is his most recent book.
EL SHAMSY, AhmedUnited States
Ahmed El Shamsy is an associate professor of Islamic thought at the University of Chicago. He studies the intellectual history of Islam, focusing on the evolution of the classical Islamic disciplines and scholarly culture. His research addresses themes such as orality and literacy, the history of the book, and the theory and practice of Islamic law. His latest book, Rediscovering the Islamic Classics: How Editors and Print Culture Transformed an Intellectual Tradition, shows how Arab editors and intellectuals in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used the newly adopted medium of printing to rescue classical Arabic texts from oblivion and to popularize them as the classics of Islamic thought. El Shamsy is a native of Germany and studied in the United Kingdom, Egypt, and the United States.
EVARISTO, BernardineUnited Kingdom
British author Bernardine Evaristo won the Booker Prize 2019 with her eighth book, Girl, Woman, Other, a fusion fiction novel. Her writing centres on her interest in the African diaspora. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. She’s won several awards and honours and was appointed an MBE in 2009.
FINCH, CatrinUnited Kingdom
Born in Llanon, Ceredigion in 1980, Catrin Finch was immersed in music, and especially the harp, from a very early age. Finch joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain aged 10, becoming the youngest member of the orchestra to play at a BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.
She won first prize in the junior section of the World Harp Festival in 1991, and in 1994, aged just 14, achieved second place in the adult section of the same competition. Finch has also formed a big band, CF47, with which she has toured the UK and with her husband has set up Acapela, a recording studio and concert venue in a converted chapel in Cardiff.
In 2009 the Catrin Finch Centre, a state-of-the-art conference and performance centre, opened at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, honouring Catrin’s contribution to the music industry in Wales.
FLETCHER, TomUnited Kingdom
FLORENCE, PeterUnited Kingdom
(United Kingdom) In 1987 Peter Florence and his father, Norman Florence, founded the Hay Festival, today present in countries such as Spain, Peru, Mexico and Colombia. Currently, as well as managing the Hay Festivals, he works to inspire, advise and coordinate many other festivals and events, all dedicated to celebrating culture and advancing human understanding.
FRANKOPAN, PeterUnited Kingdom
Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History, where he is also Stavros Niarchos Foundation Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research. His book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World was named one of the Books of the Decade by the Sunday Times. It was also voted one of the 25 most important books translated into Chinese. His latest book, The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World, looks at the changing world of the 21st century. In 2019, Prospect Magazine chose Peter as one of the World's 50 Top Thinkers.
GALAI, Ahmed Ben TaharTunisia
Ahmed Ben Tahar Galai is a Tunisian human rights activist who plays a prominent role in the Tunisian Human Rights League, an organisation that belongs to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, which was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. This association fights for the recognition of rights, and to make Tunisia after the 2011 Jasmine Revolution a de facto, free and transparent democracy. He continues his advocacy from 2018, striving for better relations between the countries around the Mediterranean and more humane policy from the UN regarding war refugees.
Photo: © Ismael Llopis Navarro
Christophe Galfard was born in Paris in 1976. He took his doctorate in Physics at the University of Cambridge under Stephen Hawking. He likes to say that he still has the shirt that he wore when he researched black holes with the great scientist. He has now left the closed circles of academia to introduce a wider public to the mysteries of the universe. Since then, he has become a brilliant and rigorous popular scientist, appearing at conferences and on television programmes, and encouraging direct dialogue with his readers via his website (particularly the Ask Me About The Universe section). All his interests and concerns have been condensed into the titanic but accessible The Universe in Your Hand. It has become an international publishing phenomenon, named best scientific book of 2015 in France. His latest book is How to Understand E=mc2.
A 'storyteller without borders', the award-winning senior Canadian journalist and photographer collects stories from around the world. Co-founder of The Hidden Beauty Project, she has also written the national bestseller Maskoon for young readers based on a real haunted palace in UAE filled with Jinn stories, and published a bilingual Spot and the Little Boy, based on a real orphan refugee boy and his orphan kitten, with author's profits donated towards helping orphans. Her third book is currently in the works.
Ghazal is also a peace ambassador, former war zone correspondent, cultural diplomat, environmentalist and one of the founding team of writers for The National newspaper. She also worked with The National Geographic, Globe and Mail, Daily Star, Huffington Post and other media. As a dyslexic, Ghazal was told she would be unable to be a writer. With three books and over 2,000 articles published and as a mentor for many new journalists, she is testament that all is possible if one believes in a dream and follows it.
GOWING, NikUnited Kingdom
In 2018 Nik Gowing co-authored (with Chris Langdon) “Thinking the Unthinkable”. In this era of a new disruption leaders reveal that they are ‘scared’, ‘confused’ and ‘overwhelmed’ especially by the new short termism. Nik founded the ongoing, dynamic “Thinking the Unthinkable” project in 2014 on the new frailties for leadership.
Nik was a main news presenter for BBC World News 1996-2014. He presented The Hub with Nik Gowing, BBC World Debates, Dateline London.
For 18 years he worked at ITN. He was bureau chief in Rome and Warsaw, and Diplomatic Editor for Channel Four News (1988-1996). He has been on the councils of Chatham House (1998–2004), the Royal United Services Institute (2005–present), the Overseas Development Institute (2007-2014), the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (1996-2005).
Nik was been a Visiting Professor at Kings College, London and Nanyang University (NTU), Singapore. In 2018 advised the President of the UN General Assembly on leadership challenges.
HABIB, ParweenUnited Arab Emirates
Joumana Haddad is a Lebanese award-winning author, poet, journalist and public speaker. She’s a renowned activist for equality, freedom of expression and human rights. She’s been repeatedly selected as one of the world’s 100 most powerful Arab women by Arabian Business magazine, for her cultural and social activism. After a career in written journalism for more than 20 years, as the cultural editor of An Nahar newspaper, she now hosts a TV show on human rights and freedom of expression on Al Horra.
Haddad’s books have been translated into more than 20 languages and published all around the world. They include The Return of Lilith, I Killed Scheherazade, Superman is an Arab, and the play Kafas (Cages), performed with great success both in Beirut and Hollywood. Her latest and fifteenth work is a novel entitled The Seamstress' Daughter, inspired by the life of her Armenian grandmother.
Qassim Haddad (born in 1948) is a Bahraini poet, particularly known within the Arab world for his free verse poetry. His poems have been translated into several languages including German, English and French.
HARRI, GutoUnited Kingdom
HASAN ALWAN, MohammedSaudi Arabia
Mohammed Hasan Alwan is a Saudi Arabian novelist, born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1979. He graduated with a doctorate in International Marketing from the University of Carleton, Canada. Alwan has published five novels to date: The Ceiling of Sufficiency (2002), Sophia (2004), The Collar of Purity (2007), The Beaver (2011), and A Small Death (2016), as well as a non-fiction work, Migration: Theories and Key Factors (2014). His work has appeared in translation in Banipal magazine (Blonde Grass and Statistics, translated by Ali Azeriah), in The Guardian (Oil Field, translated by Peter Clark), and in Words Without Borders (Mukhtar, translated by William M. Hutchins). In 2009–10, Alwan was chosen as one of the 39 best Arab authors under the age of 40 by the Beirut39 project and his work was published in the Beirut39 anthology. He was also a participant in the first IPAF Nadwa in 2009 and a mentor on the Nadwa in 2016. In 2013, The Beaver was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and in 2015, its French edition (translated by Stéphanie Dujols) won the Prix de la Littérature Arabe awarded in Paris for the best Arabic novel translated into French for that year. Alwan won the International prize for Arabic fiction for A Small Death.
HUGHES, BettanyUnited Kingdom
Professor Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, who has devoted the last 25 years to the vibrant communication of the past. Her speciality is ancient and medieval history and culture. A Scholar at Oxford University, she has taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and lectured at Cornell, Bristol, UCL, Maastricht, Utrecht, Manchester and Swansea. She is a Tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education, a Research Fellow of King's College London and recently joined the New College of the Humanities as Professor of History. She is the author of Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities (2017).
Pierre Joris has moved between Europe, the US and North Africa for some 55 years now, publishing as many books of poetry, essays, translations and anthologies — most recently Arabia (not so) Deserta (Essays, Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2019); Conversations in the Pyrenees with Adonis (CMP 2018), and The Book of U (poems, with Nicole Peyrafitte, Editions Simoncini 2017). Forthcoming in 2020 is A City Full of Voices: Essays on the Work of Robert Kelly and Microliths: Posthumous Prose of Paul Celan, (both Contra Mundum Press), and The Collected Earlier Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG).
KASSABOVA, KapkaBulgaria / United Kingdom
Is the author of three narrative non-fiction books: Street Without a Name (Granta, 2008), Twelve Minutes of Love (Granta, 2011), and Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (Granta/ Greywolf, 2017) which won the British Academy’s Al-Rodhan Prize, the Saltire Book of the Year, the Stanford-Dolman Book of the Year, the Highland Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the US National Book Critics’ Circle Award. Kassabova grew up in Sofia and as a young adult in the 1990s emigrated with her family to New Zealand where she studied French and Russian Literature and published her first poetry and fiction. Since 2005 she has lived in Scotland. Her native Balkans are the location for both Border and her new book, To The Lake: A Journey of War and Peace (Granta/Greywolf, 2020).
Variously described as a ‘griot’ (praise singer), composer, djembe master, virtuoso and pioneer, Seckou Keita is a rare type of musician, seated in tradition while constantly pushing the boundaries of his art.
He has arguably become the most influential and inspiring Kora player of his generation, an exceptional and charismatic musician. Through his recent solo album 22 Strings, he explores what it means to be a modern global citizen, and yet to live with seven centuries of tradition and heritage expressed through music. Seckou gives us the kora in its purest guise, a wondrous instrument that can soothe the bloodlust of warriors and take the human spirit to a place of deep meditation, stillness and beauty.
Photo credit: Andy Morgan
Marcel Khalife is a composer, oud master and performer born in Amchit, Lebanon. He studied the oud (the Arabic lute) at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music and graduated in 1971, and, ever since, has been injecting a new life into the oud. From 1972 to 1975, Marcel Khalife taught at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music, public universities and other local private music institutions. During that same period, he toured the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the United States giving solo performances on the oud.
Khalife has performed at many international festivals and in prestigious venues. He has also composed several purely instrumental works that have been performed by major orchestras. His latest work, ‘Arabian Concerto’, premièred at the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra inaugural concert and was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; the Champs Elysees Theater in Paris; Teatro Alla Scalla Milano in Italy and the Royal Albert Hall in London, all under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel.
Since 1982, Marcel Khalife has been writing books on music that reflect his avant garde compositions. In his association with great contemporary Arab poets, particularly Palestinian poet par excellence Mahmoud Darwish, he also seeks to renew the character of Arabic song, to break its stereotypes, and to advance the culture of the society that surrounds it. His lyrical and instrumental recordings add up to more than 20 albums and DVDs. He is also a composer of music for dance, which gave rise to a new genre of dance, the popular Near Eastern ballet, and soundtracks for films and documentaries.
His work has been critically acclaimed both in the Arab and wider worlds. His creativity, innovation and educational and humanitarian contributions to the promotion of arts and culture in the Arab world have earned him tens of awards in the Arab world and internationally. Upon his receipt of the National Palestine Medal for Arts and Culture in 2001, Khalife contributed the financial part of the award to the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine. The Conservatory has since established in his name an annual music competition – the Marcel Khalife National Music Competition grants young, gifted musicians financial support for their continued music education. In June 2005 Marcel Khalife was named UNESCO Artist for Peace for his artistic achievement and humanitarian contributions.
LAHLOU, MariakenziUnited Kingdom
LATORRE, José IgnacioSpain
Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Barcelona and at the Center for Quantum Technologies of Singapore. Latorre did his doctorate on the subject of elementary particles and currently works in quantum computation. He has produced two scientific documentaries, has written more than 100 scientific articles and is the author of three books: La Nada, Cuántica and Ética para máquinas. He founded the Qilimanjaro Quantum Tech company. He is founder and Director of the Benasque Pedro Pascual Centre for Sciences.
Yang Lian, a Chinese poet, was born in Switzerland, grew up in China and now lives in London. He has published 15 volumes of poetry, two volumes of prose, one autobiographical book, and many essays, as well as translated George Orwell's fictions into Chinese. His work has been translated into more 30 languages, and his representative works include YI, Where the Sea Stands Still; Concentric Circles; Riding Pisces: Poems from Five Collections; Lee Valley Poems, Narrative Poem, and Anniversary Snow. His works have been reviewed as "like MacDiarmid meets Rilke with Samurai sword drawn!"; "one of the most representative voices of Chinese literature"; and "one of the great world poets of our era". He was also one of the main editors of Jade Ladder: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry in English Translation (Bloodaxe Books, 2012) and The Third Shore: An Anthology of Chinese & English-Language Poets in Mutual Translation (Shearsman Books, 2013). Among other prizes, Yang Lian was awarded the 2019 Premio Sulmona in Italy; the 2018 Premio Internazionale NordSud (2018 NordSud International Prize) for Literature, Italy; and the 2018 Janus Pannonius International Poetry Grand in Hungary, 2017. Narrative Poem, Yang Lian’s autographical book-length poem, was selected as a recommended translation by the Poetry Book Society in UK, as well as winning the English PEN Award.
Lian won the Pacific International Poetry Prize in Taiwan in 2016, four poetry prizes in China during 2015, the International Capri Prize 2014, “Tian Duo” (Heavenly Bell) prize for the long poem 2013 and the Nonino International Literature Prize 2012 (the jury of the prize presided over by VS Naipaul). He has been elected a board member of PEN International in 2008 and 2011. Yang Lian has been a distingushed Professor at Shantou University in China since 2014, and has been invited to become a member of the Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom of Expression in 2013. He was a DAAD fellow in Berlin 1991–1992 and a fellow of Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2012–2013.
MAR-KHALIFE, BacharUnited Arab Emirates
Born in 1972 in Bab El Oued, the old working-class neighbourhood of Algiers that has nursed more than one revolution. A leading light among the Algerian artists, Souad Massi takes her homeland music tradition to another level. Talented melodist, passionate about mixing cultures and sounds... folk, rock, rai, African blues and a touch of French chanson. She is an activist and lets it known in her lyrics with great courage and sensitivity.
Credit to Beroske Production
Daphne Mercer holds a BA and a BEd from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador and an MEd with distinction in Literacy Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is a retired second-language teacher who has always worked to instill a love of learning and reading in her students. She mentors teachers as they work to include children’s literature resources in their practice. Daphne has authored a children’s counting book, The Egret Tree. She is a mother of three and a grandmother of three.
Gerald Mercer holds a BA (Ed) and an MEd (Learning Resources, Technology) from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. He is a retired school principal and school improvement specialist with a particular interest in the power of learning in programs whose foundations are rich in vibrant children’s literature. Gerald believes in providing appropriate, culturally sound resources for children. He has authored four and illustrated two children’s books and has co-authored a series of social studies textbooks for use in eastern Canadian elementary schools. Gerald is a father of three and a grandfather of three.
METCALFE, DawnUnited Arab Emirates
Author, workplace culture advisor, executive coach and speaker Dawn Metcalfe helps organisations create cultures of candour – where all are empowered to hear and be heard more effectively, and speak up, in a tolerant and respectful way. Cultures where change isn’t feared, but encouraged, in the spirit of constant innovation. Having lived and worked around the world, she’s written two books, Managing the Matrix and The HardTalk Handbook, which are about workplace communication and what’s needed to succeed. She developed the HardTalk training programme to help people effectively engage in difficult conversations – regardless of culture, background or experience. Dawn is Managing Director of PDSi and is bringing the Possibilities Project to students across the UAE.
OBAID HASSAN, SalhaUnited Arab Emirates
PAVER, MichelleUnited Kingdom
Michelle Paver was born in Malawi, but her family moved to the UK when she was three years old. After graduating from Oxford, she started working for a law firm. The death of her father prompted her to take a sabbatical year, during which she wrote her first book, Without Clarity. She gave up practising law to concentrate on writing. She is author of the well-known series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.
Born in 1950, writer, poet, artist, between archaeology and ethnology, Serge Pey remains one of the most singular creators of international poetry-action. Experience of the limits of language, political and philosophical commitment to poetry, critical examination of performance, questioning the contradictions of a modernity reflecting an hallucinated society of the war of egos, status of the role of the avant-garde, are the central themes evoked in his theoretical research.
His creative texts illuminate in a relevant and polemical way the role that the poet can play in the urban spaces of a society that propels poetry out of the book. Serge Pey recently published Ahuc, poèmes stratégiques (Flammarion), Le trésor de la guerre d’Espagneet la Boîte aux lettres du cimetière (Zulma), Le manifeste magdalénien (Dernier Télégramme), Dialectique de la Tour de Pise (Dernier Télégramme), Jérôme Bosch, avertissement d’incendie (Voixéditions), Histoires sardes d’espérance, d’assassinat et d’animaux particuliers (Castor Astral), Occupation des cimetières (Jacques Brémond), Poésie-action, manifeste pour un temps intranquille (Castor Astral), Mathématique générale de l’infini (NRFGallimard), Le carnaval des poètes (Flammarion), and Victor Hugo, Notre Âme des Paris (La rumeur libre), among others.
Carlo Pizzati is the author of seven books of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent memoir is Bending over Backwards – a journey to the end of the world to cure a chronic backache (2019). He is a political analyst for La Stampa and professor of theory of communication at the Asian College of Journalism. He’s been a correspondent from New York, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Rome and Madrid for La Repubblica. He’s covered the Northern Ireland strife, guerrilla war in Colombia, the narcos business in the Andes, smuggling of immigrants in Mexico, civil rights battles in Chile, pro-environment militancy in the French atoll of Mururoa, and the GMO battle in Europe and the US. He’s won the Leonardo International Prix and the Igor Man Prize and has lectured at his alma mater, Columbia University, at New York University, Loyola University, Yonsei University, Ca’ Foscari and Sapienza Universities. He lives near a fishermen’s village in Southern India with his wife and three dogs.
Photo by Mia Murgese Mastroianni
Youssef Rakha is an Egyptian novelist, essayist and poet who writes in both Arabic and English. Born, raised and based in Cairo, he graduated from Hull University, UK, in 1998, and has worked as a cultural journalist, editor, literary translator and creative writing coach. He is the founding editor of the website The Sultan's Seal: Cairo’s coolest cosmopolitan hotel, named after his acclaimed first novel, The Book of the Sultan’s Seal.
RAUF, OnjaliUnited Kingdom
Onjali is the founder and CEO of Making Herstory: an organisation mobilising men, women and children from all walks of life to tackle all forms of violence, abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. She is also the founder of O's Refugee Aid Team, which works to aid refugee response units in Calais, Dunkirk and beyond. Her first book, The Boy at the Back of the Class, went on to win the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019 and the Blue Peter Book Award 2019. Her second children’s novel, The Star Outside My Window, tackles the impact of domestic abuse on children’s lives.
ROGERS, Dorian PaulUnited States
Dr. Dorian Rogers is a go-to curator in the UAE in the genre of contemporary poetry. Most of his work revolves around lifting this art form to its rightful place as a respected component of Fine Art.
In 2018, he was chosen to curate a series of pop up performances at Louvre Abu Dhabi for the museum’s first anniversary celebrations. In 2016, he created and curated a participatory poetry concept called pARTicipate for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s “Do Art! Do It Now!” In 2015, Dorian produced a gala event for the Ludacris Foundation which featured UAE based artists.
In 2012, he founded Rooftop Rhythms Poetry Open Mic Night, which has become the Middle East’s largest and longest running event of its kind. He has been highlighted on both CNN and The BBC for his culture and arts events in the UAE.
Dorian is also a respected poet and educator. In 2007, he won The National Poetry Slam. In 2005, he beat out over 100 poets to win the Southern Fried Poetry Slam, the nation’s largest regional poetry slam competition.
Furthermore, Dr. Rogers holds active teacher certifications in The USA and The UAE and has over fifteen years of experience as a Language Arts educator.
Dorian was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Albany, Georgia. He has lived in the UAE for eight years and is married with one daughter.
RUBENHOLD, HallieUnited Kingdom
Hallie Rubenhold is a bestselling author, social historian, broadcaster and historical consultant for TV and film. Her most recent book, The Five, is the winner of the 2019 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction and has been voted Hay Festival Book of the Year. It is the first biography of the five victims of Jack the Ripper and reclaims the narrative in favour of the women, rather than the murderer. In addition to The Five, Hallie is author of two works of non-fiction, including The Covent Garden Ladies, which became the inspiration for the hit television series Harlots, and Lady Worsley’s Whim, which became the 2015 BBC 2 drama, The Scandalous Lady W. She has also written two novels set during the period of the French Revolution: Mistress of My Fate and The French Lesson.
SAYED WORRELL, HananUnited Arab Emirates
SOUEIF, AhdafUnited Kingdom
Since her groundbreaking article on the Palestinian Intifada in The Guardian in December 2000, Ahdaf Soueif has been an active and articulate advocate for Palestine. In 2007 she founded the Palestine Festival of Literature which takes place annually in the cities of occupied Palestine and Gaza. In summer 2017 she co-edited the anthology This Is Not A Border: Reflections and Reportage from the Palestine Festival of Literature.
Soueif is author of the bestselling The Map of Love (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1999 and translated into more than 30 languages), In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed, her account of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 (2014). She is also a political and cultural commentator. Her Mezzaterra (2004) has been influential and her articles for The Guardian are published in the European and American press. She is the translator of Mourid Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah into English.
STANTON, AndyUnited Kingdom
Andy Stanton is a much-loved children’s author, whose hilarious ‘Mr Gum’ books have sold nearly four million copies in the UK alone. They have been translated into more than thirty languages and have won lots of awards, including the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. In addition, he has written picture books for younger readers and is currently working on a new middle grade series, The Paninis of Pompeii. Andy lives in North London.
Miguel Syjuco – a Filipino novelist, journalist, civil society advocate, and professor at New York University Abu Dhabi – is a contributing opinion writer for the International New York Times and serves on the Advisory Council of the Resilience Fund, a project by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime to support communities threatened by criminal abuse of power. His debut novel Ilustrado was a NY Times Notable Book as well as the winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, the Hugh MacLennan Prize, the Palanca Award, and the Filipino Readers' Choice Award.
Dr Syjuco has worked in journalism for 20 years as a copyeditor and a freelancer. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Time, Newsweek, the Nikkei Asian Review, the Globe & Mail, the International Herald Tribune, Rappler, the Boston Review, OpenDemocracy, and on the BBC, CBC, Inside Higher Ed, and many others.
Born in Manila in 1976, Dr Syjuco received a BA in English Literature from the Ateneo de Manila University, an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide. He was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and is a member of the Academy of the Rathbones Folio Prize.
His fiction and non-fiction focus on politics, history, inequality, cultural identity, literature, and formal experimentation.
Born in Malayalam, India, 1956, Shashi Tharoor is a Member of the Indian Parliament and a prolific author, columnist, journalist and human rights advocate. Tharoor's career in the United Nations began in 1978 as a staff member of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva. Until 1996, he led the team responsible for peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia. Tharoor has written numerous books in English. Most of his literary creations are centred on Indian themes and they are markedly ‘Indo-nostalgic’. Perhaps his most famous work is The Great Indian Novel, published in 1989, in which he uses the narrative and theme of the famous Indian epic Mahabharata. Tharoor has been a highly-regarded columnist in each of India’s three best-known English-language newspapers. His book reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other papers. His latest book is The Hindu Way: An Introduction to Hinduism.
THE SILENT PARTYUnited Kingdom
UNNIKRISHNAN, DeepakUnited Arab Emirates
Deepak Unnikrishnan is a writer from Abu Dhabi. His book Temporary People, a work of fiction about Gulf narratives steeped in Malayalee and South Asian lingo, won the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, the Hindu Prize and the Moore Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Believer Book Award, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, the Crossword Book Award and appeared on the long list for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the International Dublin Literary Award. At the 57th Venice Biennale, Deepak’s fiction was featured in the written publication of the National Pavilion of the UAE: Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play. His work can also be found in Gross Ideas: Tales of Tomorrow’s Architecture, a book project commissioned by the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Guernica, The Guardian and Himal Southasian among others and he frequently collaborates with artists and scholars across disciplines. He has been a writer in residence at Sangam House, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, and Brown University, and was a Margaret Bridgman Fellow at Bread Loaf. He currently teaches at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Photo © Philip Cheung
VALENTINE, JennyUnited Kingdom
Jenny Valentine is an award-winning writer for Young Adults. Her first novel Finding Violet Park won the Guardian Prize in 2007 and since then she has written six more, including Broken Soup and Fire Colour One, as well as Iggy and Me, a series for younger children. Her work has been published in 19 countries and Hello Now, her latest YA novel, will be published in the UK and US in March 2020. In 2017 she was the Hay Festival International Fellow, spending the year meeting and learning from teenagers all over the world. She works to empower and give a voice to young people. She lives all over the place and has two daughters.
André Velter (born 1945) is a French poet born in Signy-l'Abbaye in the Ardennes région. Having begun his first journeys in 1955 through Europe and the Middle East, he has traveled through Afghanistan, Tibet, China and India. As a result, his poetry displays a varied and colorful relation to the places, sounds and rhythms of the cultures he has visited.
Velter has experimented with improvised songs, polyphonic poetry, and has composed a rock oratorio. His work with France Culture combined with frequent poetry recitals, alone or with dance and instrumentation, show commitment to poetry as an actively performed medium.
VERE, EdUnited Kingdom
Ed Vere is a New York Times bestselling writer and illustrator of picture books. Max the Brave was named as one of The Sunday Times' '100 Modern Children's Classics'. His latest book is How to be a Lion, winner of Oscar's Book Prize. He worked with CLPE to co-create the Power of Pictures visual literacy course and is artist in residence for the Born Free Foundation.
WILSON, LydiaUnited Kingdom
Lydia Wilson is a research fellow at the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, University of Oxford, with visiting positions at the University of Cambridge and City University New York. She is Chair of the Panel on Terrorism and Conflict at the World Federation of Scientists, and is currently writing a popular book on violent extremism. As well as academic work, Lydia presents documentaries for BBC television (a three-part series on the history of writing is coming out in 2020), writes journalistic articles based on her work in the field, and edits the Cambridge Literary Review.
ANNA ZACHARIAS moved to Ras Al Khaimah from Canada’s west coast as a child. She worked as a journalist at The National newspaper for more than six years, including three years as a Ras Al Khaimah correspondent from 2008 to 2011. Based in Abu Dhabi from 2011 to 2014, she worked as a senior features writer specialising in pop heritage and wrote The National’s camel blog, A Year at the Camel Races.
2Faced Dance CompanyUnited Kingdom