For anyone with a passion for the written word, this week heralds two important diary dates in the literary calendar. Saturday September 8 is UNESCO’s International Literacy Day, which aims to raise public awareness for the importance of literacy in communities and societies, while the Man Booker Prize shortlist is announced on Tuesday September 11. To help you select which books to take to the beach this weekend, we’ve chosen three UAE-related titles (either written by a local author or set in the region), plus our picks from the Man Booker longlist that we think deserve your attention. Happy reading! View 10 new beach reads
Alif the unseen G Willow Wilson The gist: Set in the Middle East and centred on a young man named Alif, this book takes a fictional look at the role of technology in the run-up to the Arab Spring and even involves vampire-like antagonists.
Keywords: Arabic True Blood, hackers, anarchy.
Best for: Those looking for a local novel with a clever technological twist. Dhs82. Available at Virgin Megastore, various locations including Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4353).
Abu Dhabi days, Dubai nights Jillian Schedneck The gist: Schedneck’s insightful memoir relays her experience as an English-language teacher in Abu Dhabi and her weekends in Dubai. She finds love, and begins to teach her students about the history of feminism and authors such as Virginia Woolf.
Keywords: Cultural differences, inner conflict.
Best for: Those who want more than pure entertainment, and to learn about Emirati culture. Dhs60. Available at www.macmillandigital.com.au.
Galagolia: The Hidden Divination Dubai Abulhoul The gist: The 16-year-old Emirati writer’s fantastical first novel features a ten-year-old girl from Deira, who finds a portal to a new world called Galagolia.
Keywords: Harry Potter-style revelations, escape, self-discovery.
Best for: Young adults and sci-fi fans in search of a local Harry Potter equivalent. Dhs36. Available at Magrudy’s, various locations including Dubai Festival Centre (04 232 9988).
Philida Andre Brink The gist: South African author Brink has been nominated for the Booker Prize twice before. His most recent story is set in Cape Town in 1832: rumours are circulating that the slave population will soon be liberated. Philida’s master has decided to break his promise of emancipation, so the woman sets off on foot to begin her life.
Keywords: Freedom, inspiration, long walks.
Best for: Anyone with an interest in social activism who enjoyed The Help. From Dhs48. Available at www.amazon.co.uk.
Swimming Home Deborah Levy The gist: Perhaps not the most joyful of reads, but entertaining all the same. Set in a summer villa shared by two families in the French Riviera, this novel explores the effect that depression can have on seemingly successful middle-class people.
Best for: Anyone who gets a kick out of disintegrating holiday situations. Dhs45. Available at www.amazon.co.uk.
The Teleportation Accident Ned Beauman The gist: A novel based on three separate events within different periods in history, each referring to the unfortunate forces that come into play to set them into motion. This book will make you question whether some people are cursed, but it also plays on the blurring of time.
Keywords: Invention, hipster, space, time.
Best for: Those who find humour in others’ misfortunes. From Dhs50. Available at www.amazon.co.uk.
Communion Town Sam Thompson The gist: A series of short stories that sooner or later become integrated. The book was inspired by the idea that each person has their own imaginary view of the city in which they live. All the stories are set in the same place, with each character giving a completely different viewpoint of their surroundings and the people they see as they travel through it.
Keywords: Geography, repetition, segregation.
Best for: Fans of detailed prose and those who love city life. Dhs47. Available at www.amazon.co.uk.
Skios Michael Frayn The gist: The latest novel by English author Michael Frayn is set on the fictional Greek island of Skios, where world-famous scientist Dr Norman Wilfred is due to hold a lecture. He is young, charming and influential. At the same time, a flustered old gent on the other side of the island can’t remember his whereabouts – or anything else. His name is also Dr Norman Wilfred.
Keywords: Mistaken identities, big shots.
Best for: Bookworms who like a giggle. Dhs49. Available at www.amazon.com.
The Garden of Evening Mists Tan Twan Eng The gist: Set in Malaysia during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s, a young law graduate travels to the mountainous Cameron Highlands and stumbles upon a rare Japanese garden and its mysterious owner.
Best for: Those who want to learn about the incredible art of Japanese gardening and its many metaphors. Dhs88. Available at www.amazon.com.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce The gist: The heartening debut novel from this British author takes us on one old man’s journey to visit his dying friend. During the walk, Harold Fry makes chance encounters, which help him reflect on hardships within his own life as he journeys further from his home.
Keywords: Long walks, humanity, resolutions.
Best for: Anyone who wishes to be moved by an uplifting tale of life. Dhs61. Available at www.amazon.com.