Yesterday at Sharjah International Book Fair I went to a reading by two new self-published authors, Alexander McNabb from Dubai and Sultan Saeed Darmaki from Abu Dhabi.
Both writers introduced their work and did short readings, then hung around to chat with the audience. It was done in the middle of the main hall and it was fab to see passersby stop to listen, then linger to talk to the writers. Literature by surprise!
Sultan Darmaki did a call to arms to young writers, encouraging them to create work and put it out in the world, whether it’s a blog or a book or something else. “We don’t just want to bring the world to the UAE,” he said, “we should also tell the world about UAE.”
His book is called Under My Black Halo (geddit?), and is a collection of quotates covering themes as diverse as lovel, power and humanity. He also writes a blog, one of the few Emirati blogs I’ve come across. (Another is the Emaratist.)
Alexander McNabb’s book is a novel, Olive – “a violent romance” that he self-published after being rejected by loads of publishers, who told him that it wasn’t marketable because “no one wants to read books set in the Middle East”.
Alexander has documented the self publishing process on his blog, Fake Plastic Souks, including this excellent post on How to self publish in the UAE. There are a few extra hurdles that people in this region need to jump in order to self publish, so it’s worth a read if the topic interests you!
I had a great time at the launch. It was a good vibe, much like the good vibes we get at the Emerging Writers’ Festival. I really do love seeing new writers trying new things, reaching and audience and putting their work out into the world.