"Properly, we should read for power," said the modernist poet Ezra Pound. "Man reading should be man intensely alive - the book should be a ball of light in one's hand." Indeed, some stories evolve into favourite books that are treasured by generations. This is the theme behind a new contest organised by Abu Dhabi Media Company and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, The Nation's Favourite Novel.
Readers will be asked to choose their favourite from a list of 40 books, including the Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk's classic Snow and the 2008 Man Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. The idea is simple: UAE residents vote for their pick of the list by text message and the winning book will be announced on March 22, the last day of the book fair. The contest, which started yesterday, is scheduled to run for 19 days to correspond with the 19th anniversary of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
The list is posted on www.nationsnovel.com. To vote, send an SMS with the code that corresponds to your favourite book to 3538 (for Etisalat users) or 9100 (for Du). Books not included on the list can also be nominated via the website. The fair will feature international authors, including Amitav Gosh and Elias Khoury, plus the winner and shortlisted authors from the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Meanwhile, poetry events, including an Indian authors' evening and a reading by the winner of the 2008 Prince of Poets, Sidi Mohammad Ould Bemba, are expected to draw crowds.
The fair is organised by Kitab, a shared project of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and runs from March 17 at the Abu Dhabi National Expo Centre. "A well written novel is the best way to open up new horizons. So we hope many people will share the buzz and vote for their favourite books," says Iris Klose of Kitab.