Festival Reading Group

Next Festival Reading Group meeting: February 29th, 7.30-9pm at Carpe Diem La Cafette, Town Centre, Jumeirah 1

About the Festival Reading Group

The Festival Reading Group meets each month to discuss one of the books by an author coming to the festival. An open and informal gathering led by Becky Kilsby, the Reading Group is a place to share your thoughts on the selected books and meet other readers. There is also a Facebook group for online discussions.

The day after the meeting, Becky and members of the group join Siobhan on Siobhan Live on Dubai Eye 103.8, for further discussion.

Members register before each meeting by emailing cathy.penaflor@emirateslitfest.com.

February Selection: Dear Zari by Zarguna Kargar

On 29 February 2012 the group will meet to discuss Dear Zari by Zarguna Kargar.

In 2001 Zarghuna Kargar came to the UK as an asylum-seeker. She and her family were forced to leave their home in Kabul during the civil war and then spent several years as refugees in Pakistan. Zarghuna trained as a journalist with BBC Worldwide in Peshawar, and when she came to London she quickly got a job working at the BBC. In 2004 she became the producer and presenter for the ground-breaking Afghan Women's Hour, a programme which aired discussions, stories and advice, covering issues - many of which were controversial and had never before been raised - faced by Afghan women every day. The programme was broadcast to millions of people across Afghanistan where it attracted huge audiences, of both men and women. It was profoundly influential, bringing education, support and encouragement to countless women.

It is this programme, and the stories that Zarghuna heard, that have inspired this book. From the experience of being sold off in marriage as a child bride, to living as a widow shunned by society, to a childhood spent in a dark, dusty room weaving carpets - Dear Zari brings us stories which are personal and emotional, revealing how many of the customs in this deeply religious and intensely traditional society cause real suffering for women. These women have been moved to share their stories with Zarghuna in the hope that they might help someone else. And we also hear Zarghuna's own incredible story, growing up as a refugee, beginning a new life in the west and dealing with an arranged marriage. She is a brave and compassionate advocate for these women, facing her own cultural pressures, and giving hope and reassurance to so many by bringing their experiences into light for the first time.

Profoundly moving, tender, and even, at times, funny, these tales of women's life in Afghanistan are never depressing and open up a fascinating and intimate world to a new audience.

The Festival Book Club Face-to-Face: Readers Meet Writers

On Thursday 8 March, 7:30-9pm, the group will be meeting at the LitFest with a number of the authors whose books they have read over the last year.

Becky Kilsby will chair a session that will include Katie Hickman (The Aviary Gate), bestselling historical writer and novelist; Alastair Reynolds (Terminal World), award-winning science fiction writer; David Nicholls (One Day) bestselling author and screenwriter; Ibrahim al Koni* (Gold Dust) acclaimed Tuareg Libyan novelist and Zarghuna Kargar (Dear Zari).

Details of this session can be found here.

*TBC

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