The British spy-thriller writer John Le Carre, pictured here in London in 1964, is the author of the well-received A Delicate Truth. Ralph Crane / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images
The British spy-thriller writer John Le Carre, pictured here in London in 1964, is the author of the well-received A Delicate Truth. Ralph Crane / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

2013 was breakout year for unknown writers



Unlike 2012, 2013 was low on releases from heavyweight authors, but this was no bad thing, as it meant there were more surprises for the reader from breakthrough or unknown writers.

Trieste by Daša Drndic was an outstanding debut novel with Sebaldian undertones about the Nazi occupation of northern Italy. Drndic blended fact and fiction and incorporated photos, maps and lists of Jewish deportees to produce a harrowing, affecting and gripping reading experience. Submergence by J M Ledgard flitted between a kidnapped spy in Somalia and a scientist exploring the depths of the ocean; a third strand covered their romance in a snowbound French hotel; powerful prose with lyrical flurries and characters that mattered kept me entranced. Two established writers continued to work wonders: John le Carré's A Delicate Truthand Javier Marías's The Infatuations proved that certain old masters are still rich with ideas and the talent to express them.

In 2014, I'm looking forward to Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole, because Open City was a stunningly original debut; Andrew's Brain by E L Doctorow, because a new novel is long overdue; and Can't and Won't by Lydia Davis, because few contemporary writers can craft a better short story. Finally, Iron Gustav and Tales from the Underworld by Hans Fallada and Harlequin's Millions by Bohumil Hrabal will see the welcome return from the grave of two quirky European literary geniuses.

* Malcolm Forbes

≥≥≥

The two tomes towering above all others in 2013 are Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries – a Victorian pastiche set in the New Zealand goldfields, the plot dictated by the alignment of the stars – and Donna Tartt's long anticipated third novel The Goldfinch – a twisting, Dickensian tale of a young man's life in the aftermath of a violent loss. I'd add to these Evie Wyld's second novel, All the Birds, Singing – the brutal, beautiful story of a loner haunted by a closely guarded secret. Three debuts also stood out: Kate Clanchy's Meeting the English, a hot Hampstead summer in 1989 seen through the eyes of a young, provincial Scot; Hannah Kent's Burial Rights, the fictionalised account of the crime and trial of the last woman to be executed in Iceland; and Andrew Porter's In Between Days, depicting a dysfunctional American family at breaking point.

Looking ahead to 2014, keep an eye out for Cornelius Medvei’s The Partisan – the term “quirky little gem” could have been invented for his novels. I also have high hopes for Kamila Shamsie’s (one of Granta’s 2013 Best of Young British Novelists) A God in Every Stone, Rachel Seiffert’s The Walk Home and Siri Hustvedt’s story of an embittered female artist convinced that her gender has crippled her career, The Blazing World. I’ve already devoured my proof copy of Harriet Lane’s Her, a glorious study of jealousy and revenge. And, last but not least, there’s the new Sarah Waters offering, The Paying Guests, to look forward to in the autumn.

* Lucy Scholes

≥≥≥

Has pastiche in fiction become the new noir? This year saw three eminently readable rip-offs of three literary giants. To call them rip-offs is, on reflection, unjust. To imitate a master well calls for a supreme knowledge of and sympathy for the original, as well as an ability to remind the reader of the magnificence of the original. “Reader” is used advisedly, because any attempt at replicating a literary legend will not remind but simply enrage a fanatical follower.

So the publication this year of Longbourn by Jo Baker, Solo by William Boyd and Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks could have brought respective scorn from Janeites, Bond aficionados and Wodehouse worshippers. But, for this reader, each of these novels managed, in quite distinct ways, to evoke the magic of Jane Austen, Ian Fleming and P G Wodehouse. By rewriting Pride and Prejudice from downstairs in Longbourn and conveying this great romance through the eyes of Sarah, the Bennets' maid, Baker has shown that she too can perform splendidly on the little bit (two-inches-wide) of ivory on which Austen worked.

Boyd has joined a long line of distinguished novelists entrusted by the Fleming Estate with the 007 franchise and in Solo he has shown that there is life in the old dog yet. Perhaps the trickiest task of all is recreating Wooster’s world – Wodehouse’s adventures of the Edwardian boulevardier, Bertie Wooster, and his consummate valet, Jeeves. Faulks succeeded sublimely.

Next year, Sophie Hannah will resurrect Agatha Christie’s Poirot while Curtis Sittenfield will produce a modern take on Pride and Prejudice. If they’re as good as this year’s trio of tributes, they will be worth devouring.

* Mark McGinness

≥≥≥

My reading habits confuse Amazon.com: “serious” fiction, thrillers, memoirs and graphic novels. It’s hard to know what will seize my interest and so I usually have several books going at once.

This year, Gene Luen Yang's Boxers and Saints was a graphic novel that shows us the 1899 Boxer Rebellion in China from two different vantage points: that of a boy who grows up to be a leader of the rebellion and a girl who wants to become Joan of Arc. I loved this book and so did my 13-year-old son.

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, seems like a typical story of an expatriate attempting to return "home" after a long absence, but her heroine's journey from contemporary Nigeria to the United States and back again is anything but ordinary: it's funny, profound and complex, but not ordinary.

In 2014, I’m waiting for a guilty pleasure: The Book of Life, the conclusion to Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, which could be described as the thinking-person’s Twilight series. The book is due out in July and will be a perfect summertime read.

* Deborah Lindsay Williams

≥≥≥

This year, I’ve been thinking about what we might call the speculative impulse behind fiction. Could it be that one of the things that makes “literary” fiction literary is its ability to get its readers to speculate, to ask: “What if …?” or “What would it be like to be …?” “Speculative fiction” is a category that includes not only science-fiction, but also any texts that ask us to engage in thought experiments that pose “What if ...?” questions. The category thus includes texts from political theory, utopian and dystopian narratives and even works considered to be “realist” in their orientation.

The Big Aha, a wild and woolly tour of the not-so-distant future from the cyberpunk science-fiction writer Rudy Rucker, was clearly a work of speculative fiction: it asked: “What if we lived in a world in which all technology was biological, there were a substance called “qwet” [short for “quantum wetware”] that can make you telepathic and space aliens were real?” But so was Bleeding Edge, the latest novel from the mysterious “literary” writer Thomas Pynchon, a pseudo-detective novel set in New York just after the September 11 attacks. Like all of his novels, it asked us to think about the relationships among freedom and constraint, order and entropy, and significance and meaninglessness.

For next year, I’m looking forward to further speculation, aided in January by Andrew’s Brain from the “literary” novelist E L Doctorow, and, in the early autumn, by Spark, the latest from the mysterious science-fiction writer John Twelve Hawks.

* Cyrus Patell

≥≥≥

Among the best books that I read this past year, I would have to start with Mohsin Hamid's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. I think that this was a significant novel, deeply affecting and fiendishly clever. It's a salute to literary craftsmanship and the endless directions in which a writer's imagination can take the reader. While it remains chilling in its realism, it's inspiringly experimental and sat in a class of its own.

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland is a novel that explores the theme of dislocation. Despite her predictable, often regurgitated themes, I found that, for me, the book stood out for its deeply poetic sensitivity. Lahiri's unique voice and observations of diaspora life was often uncomfortable, but that's simply because it is painfully real.

Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed was yet another multilayered narrative from the now much-applauded author. Spanning generations of an Afghan family and shifting between rural and urban landscapes, his narrative remained in this, his third and much-awaited novel, which was nothing short of masterful. It's an expansive novel filled with fierce love, dark tragedy and his trademark gift of storytelling and plot twists. Originality, lyrical prose and the depiction of human frailty are all packaged neatly in this essential read.

Finally, I would like to mention Nadeem Aslam's The Blind Man's Garden, a beautiful, passionate novel about love and the fragility of human bonds in the face of the devastation brought about by war. This was a thought-provoking book offering many dimensions. Aslam's prose was exquisitely turned, both cynical and insightful, as he offered us the most telling glimpses into the intricacies of war-ravaged lives.

Books to look forward to in 2014 would be the new Hanif Kureishi book, The Last Word; Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone is also one to look out for, and, who knows, we might just get lucky and be blessed with Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Girl.

* Erika Banerji

How to increase your savings
  • Have a plan for your savings.
  • Decide on your emergency fund target and once that's achieved, assign your savings to another financial goal such as saving for a house or investing for retirement.
  • Decide on a financial goal that is important to you and put your savings to work for you.
  • It's important to have a purpose for your savings as it helps to keep you motivated to continue while also reducing the temptation to spend your savings. 

- Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching

 

 

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg

Tottenham v Ajax, Tuesday, 11pm (UAE).

Second leg

Ajax v Tottenham, Wednesday, May 8, 11pm

Games on BeIN Sports

Also on December 7 to 9, the third edition of the Gulf Car Festival (www.gulfcarfestival.com) will take over Dubai Festival City Mall, a new venue for the event. Last year's festival brought together about 900 cars worth more than Dh300 million from across the Emirates and wider Gulf region – and that first figure is set to swell by several hundred this time around, with between 1,000 and 1,200 cars expected. The first day is themed around American muscle; the second centres on supercars, exotics, European cars and classics; and the final day will major in JDM (Japanese domestic market) cars, tuned vehicles and trucks. Individuals and car clubs can register their vehicles, although the festival isn’t all static displays, with stunt drifting, a rev battle, car pulls and a burnout competition.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Company Profile

Name: Neo Mobility
Started: February 2023
Co-founders: Abhishek Shah and Anish Garg
Based: Dubai
Industry: Logistics
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Delta Corp, Pyse Sustainability Fund, angel investors

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

The Details

Kabir Singh

Produced by: Cinestaan Studios, T-Series

Directed by: Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Suresh Oberoi, Soham Majumdar, Arjun Pahwa

Rating: 2.5/5 

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

What is the Supreme Petroleum Council?

The Abu Dhabi Supreme Petroleum Council was established in 1988 and is the highest governing body in Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas industry. The council formulates, oversees and executes the emirate’s petroleum-related policies. It also approves the allocation of capital spending across state-owned Adnoc’s upstream, downstream and midstream operations and functions as the company’s board of directors. The SPC’s mandate is also required for auctioning oil and gas concessions in Abu Dhabi and for awarding blocks to international oil companies. The council is chaired by Sheikh Khalifa, the President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi while Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, is the vice chairman.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

WWE Super ShowDown results

Seth Rollins beat Baron Corbin to retain his WWE Universal title

Finn Balor defeated Andrade to stay WWE Intercontinental Championship

Shane McMahon defeated Roman Reigns

Lars Sullivan won by disqualification against Lucha House Party

Randy Orton beats Triple H

Braun Strowman beats Bobby Lashley

Kofi Kingston wins against Dolph Zigggler to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Mansoor Al Shehail won the 50-man Battle Royal

The Undertaker beat Goldberg

 

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

ICC Awards for 2021+

MEN

Cricketer of the Year+– Shaheen Afridi+(Pakistan)

T20 Cricketer of the Year+– Mohammad Rizwan+(Pakistan)

ODI Cricketer of the Year+– Babar Azam+(Pakistan)

Test Cricketer of the Year+– Joe Root+(England)

WOMEN

Cricketer of the Year+– Smriti Mandhana+(India)

ODI Cricketer of the Year+– Lizelle Lee+(South Africa)

T20 Cricketer of the Year+– Tammy Beaumont+(England)

While you're here
BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE

Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

How to improve Arabic reading in early years

One 45-minute class per week in Standard Arabic is not sufficient

The goal should be for grade 1 and 2 students to become fluent readers

Subjects like technology, social studies, science can be taught in later grades

Grade 1 curricula should include oral instruction in Standard Arabic

First graders must regularly practice individual letters and combinations

Time should be slotted in class to read longer passages in early grades

Improve the appearance of textbooks

Revision of curriculum should be undertaken as per research findings

Conjugations of most common verb forms should be taught

Systematic learning of Standard Arabic grammar

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
CHELSEA'S NEXT FIVE GAMES

Mar 10: Norwich(A)

Mar 13: Newcastle(H)

Mar 16: Lille(A)

Mar 19: Middlesbrough(A)

Apr 2: Brentford(H)

Anghami
Started: December 2011
Co-founders: Elie Habib, Eddy Maroun
Based: Beirut and Dubai
Sector: Entertainment
Size: 85 employees
Stage: Series C
Investors: MEVP, du, Mobily, MBC, Samena Capital

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Sheikh Zayed's poem

When it is unveiled at Abu Dhabi Art, the Standing Tall exhibition will appear as an interplay of poetry and art. The 100 scarves are 100 fragments surrounding five, figurative, female sculptures, and both sculptures and scarves are hand-embroidered by a group of refugee women artisans, who used the Palestinian cross-stitch embroidery art of tatreez. Fragments of Sheikh Zayed’s poem Your Love is Ruling My Heart, written in Arabic as a love poem to his nation, are embroidered onto both the sculptures and the scarves. Here is the English translation.

Your love is ruling over my heart

Your love is ruling over my heart, even a mountain can’t bear all of it

Woe for my heart of such a love, if it befell it and made it its home

You came on me like a gleaming sun, you are the cure for my soul of its sickness

Be lenient on me, oh tender one, and have mercy on who because of you is in ruins

You are like the Ajeed Al-reem [leader of the gazelle herd] for my country, the source of all of its knowledge

You waddle even when you stand still, with feet white like the blooming of the dates of the palm

Oh, who wishes to deprive me of sleep, the night has ended and I still have not seen you

You are the cure for my sickness and my support, you dried my throat up let me go and damp it

Help me, oh children of mine, for in his love my life will pass me by. 

Profile box

Founders: Michele Ferrario, Nino Ulsamer and Freddy Lim
Started: established in 2016 and launched in July 2017
Based: Singapore, with offices in the UAE, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand
Sector: FinTech, wealth management
Initial investment: $500,000 in seed round 1 in 2016; $2.2m in seed round 2 in 2017; $5m in series A round in 2018; $12m in series B round in 2019; $16m in series C round in 2020 and $25m in series D round in 2021
Current staff: more than 160 employees
Stage: series D 
Investors: EightRoads Ventures, Square Peg Capital, Sequoia Capital India

Women’s World T20, Asia Qualifier

UAE results
Beat China by 16 runs
Lost to Thailand by 10 wickets
Beat Nepal by five runs
Beat Hong Kong by eight wickets
Beat Malaysia by 34 runs

Standings (P, W, l, NR, points)

1. Thailand 5 4 0 1 9
2. UAE 5 4 1 0 8
3. Nepal 5 2 1 2 6
4. Hong Kong 5 2 2 1 5
5. Malaysia 5 1 4 0 2
6. China 5 0 5 0 0

Final
Thailand v UAE, Monday, 7am

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

How to report a beggar

Abu Dhabi – Call 999 or 8002626 (Aman Service)

Dubai – Call 800243

Sharjah – Call 065632222

Ras Al Khaimah - Call 072053372

Ajman – Call 067401616

Umm Al Quwain – Call 999

Fujairah - Call 092051100 or 092224411

PSL FINAL

Multan Sultans v Peshawar Zalmi
8pm, Thursday
Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

The Arts Edit

A guide to arts and culture, from a Middle Eastern perspective

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The Arts Edit