Festival Director Isobel Abulhoul is at the London Book Fair. She will be blogging her thoughts on this unusual edition of the annual trade event, disrupted by volcanic clouds that have reduced visitor numbers by an estimated 20 per cent.
London Book Fair
Day 2: Tuesday 20th April
Memory and Anticipation
Feeling tired from back to back appointments and no reprieves!
Because there are so few international visitors we are being lavished with attention and interest!
I only have to get out our wonderful festival scrapbook to revive my spirits and remind myself of what a wonderful four days it was... [Editor’s Note: all the pictures in Isobel’s scrapbook can also be seen online.]
We have gathered some amazing author names as possible speakers in 2011 and if they all say yes, where do we put them? The chances are that just the right number will say yes and others will say “ask me in 2012”. As you can gather I am ever the optimist!
All kinds of people have heard about our festival; I bumped into a bookseller from Syria yesterday and she was bowled over by our author line up this year and passed on her best wishes and congratulations to the team. She is coming as a visitor next year, and is astounded at what has been achieved in two short years.
I also saw David Kelly from Jashanmal Bahrain, who again raved about the author line up and the positive effect for all booksellers in the region. Our festival is bringing books to life and to the fore, and therefore anyone in the books business is benefitting – very good to have such positive and complimentary feedback from experienced booksellers in the Gulf.
Dinner with Orion
Went to a wonderful dinner hosted by Orion. It was at the Bluebird on Kings Road, a famous and lively spot in London. Anyone who wants a restaurant recommendation – this is a great one.
Orion had invited four authors who each gave a short and very funny talk at various stages of the dinner.
Our host from Orion was Mark Streatfeild, and one of the guests was Peter Mayer, a publishing legend, and now the co-publisher in the States of Roger Ellory, one of our 2010 authors.
Roger was there and waxed lyrical about Dubai and our festival – such a nice man and a great conversationalist.
Denise Mina was a novelist who also spoke and I am very keen to read her latest book after hearing her reasons for writing it.
Another writer, David James Smith, spoke about his new biography of a famous figure and he will be publishing it later this year. It is called Young Mandela and he has unearthed many hitherto unknown facts. He also wants to show the man, not the saint.
The last speaker was Ian Rankin, and he had travelled by train from Edinburgh to be at the dinner and was travelling back overnight too.
He is such a dry and witty talker and I had the pleasure of sitting next to him for much of the dinner.
He told me about his one and only trip to Dubai which had gone horribly wrong, no hotel room, downgraded flight and so on. His impression of Dubai was rock bottom and wonder if we will ever persuade him to give Dubai another go, and come to our festival? One of his neighbours is Alexander McCall Smith and he has been singing the festival and Dubai's praises to Ian, so maybe he will try Dubai again.
One more day to go. Will need matchsticks in the eyes tomorrow, poor publishers who have to meet me tomorrow!
Isobel will continue to blog her experiences at the London Book Fair – to keep up to date with the Festival blog, subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.