From the writer of what became Slumdog Millionaire to Life of Pi’s Yann Martel, these are our top EAIFL picks
1 Marjane Satrapi: Our essential pick is the artist and author behind comic series-turned-Oscar-nominated film Persepolis. See page 14 for our interview with the notorious journalist-dodger and find out why she’s a must-see. March 12, 6pm, Al Ras 2.
2 Martin Amis: Master of what The New York Times referred to as ‘the new unpleasantness’, Amis has never shied away from controversy, be it reportedly having his opus London Fields removed from the Booker Prize shortlist for its alleged misogyny, or the recent storm over his remarks about UK glamour girl Katie Price. His stories can be grotesque, and some think the same of his (always outspoken) opinions, but it’ll be an interesting session for sure. March 10, 8.30pm, Al Ras 3.
3 Vikas Swarup: He wrote Q&A, the book that became Slumdog Millionaire and, randomly, is the Consul General of India in Osaka, Japan. March 12, 6.30pm, Al Ras 1.
4 Yann Martel: The Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi author has been harassing the prime minister of Canada. Why? Find out at this session. March 12, 8pm, Al Ras 1.
5 Shobhaa Dé: Dé is an Indian superstar who, as a former model and journalist, exposed Bollywood the way Jackie Collins exposed Hollywood. The Indian icon will be talking about her personal experiences of the Subcontinent, from Mumbai’s high life to India’s position in the world today. March 11, 7pm, Al Ras 2.
6 Crime writers’ panel: Jeffrey Deaver, Mark Billingham and RJ Ellory: Deaver (The Bone Collector), Tom Thorne scribe Billingham, and Ellory, who has won the coveted Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, share their thoughts on the genre. March 11, 4pm, Al Ras 2.
7 John Simpson: BBC World Affairs editor Simpson gives a fascinating insight into the difference between events as reported by the news and the events as they happened. March 11, 8.30pm, Al Ras 3.
8 Women writing from the Arab world: Last year this session featured Girls of Riyadh author Rajaa al-Sanea and was absolutely fascinating. We suspect this will be just as good, with a Saudi Arabian short story writer, an Iraqi novelist, a Lebanese newspaper editor and an Egyptian author of feminist articles all on the panel. March 12, 2pm, Al Ras 1.
9 William Dalrymple: The charismatic travel writer shares stories from his 25-year love affair with the strange and the sacred in India. Guaranteed to be extremely entertaining. March 12, 2pm, Al Ras 2.
10 Youssef Ziedan: His controversial Arab Booker-winning novel Azazil upset lots of Egyptian Christians, with many Coptics calling for a ban. Find out why as he discusses both the reaction to the book and its enormous success. March 10, 8.30pm, Al Ras 1.
11 Imran Ahmad: Ahmad – who some think should have been a stand-up comedian rather than a writer – discusses how the perception of Islam versus the West is very hard to break. March 12, 5pm, Al Ras 1.
12 Ghada Karmi: A Q&A session with the Palestinian author, best known for In Search of Fatima, a study of the return to her homeland after it had become Israel. March 12, 2pm, Al Ras 3.
13 Francis Wheen: The deputy editor of British satirical current affairs magazine Private Eye has a light-hearted discussion on the state of the world. March 12, 3.30pm, Al Ras 1.
14 Amit Chaudhuri: The author, whose novel The Immortals was a New Yorker Book of the Year, performs with local musicians to bring his unique blend of jazz, blues, rock, techno, disco, raga and Indian popular song (a project he named This Is Not Fusion) to Dubai’s ears. EAFL’s first concert sure sounds… original. March 12, 8pm, Al Ras 2.
15 Maha Gargash: The local author talks about how she has broken away from the traditional role of women in the UAE to fulfil her ambitions as a writer. March 13, 7pm, Al Baraha 2.