Sharjah International Book Fair 2020: 13 must-watch online sessions

'Life of Pi' author Yann Martel, writer Kate Mosse and crime maestro Ian Rankin are among the names taking part in the cultural programme

The 38th Sharjah International Book Fair edition at Expo Centre Sharjah, offering more than 1.6 million titles to publishers as well as eager readers of all ages.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)


The 39th Sharjah International Book Fair has officially kicked off.

The 10-day event, which runs from Wednesday, November 4, until Saturday, November 14, is taking a hybrid approach this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While publishers will be at the Sharjah Expo Centre selling books at stalls spread across the venue, the fair's cultural programme, which includes panel discussions and talks, will take place online.

Here is our pick of the not-to-be-missed sessions, all of which you can watch from the comfort of your home.

Writing as a New Career 

When: 1pm, Wednesday, November 4

British crime novelist Karen Millie-James meets Lebanese writer and director Leena Khouri to discuss how to take up creative writing and turn it into a full-time career. The two will discuss their works and talk about how their very different careers led them to become writers.

How Literature Inspires the Empowerment of Women

When: 7pm, Wednesday, November 4

Lebanese author Najwa Zebian will explore the role of literature in empowering women, especially in the context of the Arab world. The session will question how literature has become a powerful industry in which women can express themselves and find a voice in the community.

Robert Kiyosaki's Writing Journey

When: 9pm, Wednesday, November 4

The bestselling Rich Dad Poor Dad author will talk about his writing journey and how he became a household name before discussing his upcoming projects.

Writing Romance in the Modern Era

When: 10am, Thursday, November 5

Bestselling Indian novelist Ravinder Singh will discuss the challenges of writing a gripping romance book in our modern times, exploring how social media has impacted romantic relationships and whether future generations of readers will still connect with the contemporary romance novel.

Approaching Social Dilemmas

When: 7pm, Thursday, November 5

American rapper, Spoken word artist and filmmaker Prince Ea will give a special talk, discussing how we can approach social dilemmas, collectively working in co-operation in spite of conflicting interests.

The Art of Observation

When: 4pm, Friday, November 6

Life of Pi author Yann Martel will talk about how observing the human condition can help create important literary works, and why authors need to observe people and take in as much as possible.

Giving Women a Voice

When: 3pm, Saturday, November 7

English novelist and non-fiction writer Kate Mosse will explore how popular, bestselling and entertaining literature helps give women a voice.

The Face Behind the Word

When: 5pm, Saturday, November 7

In The Company of Strangers novelist Awais Khan will discuss the relationship between the author and their works, investigating how creative writers manipulate words to weave stories, novels, poems, thoughts or even works of philosophy. Khan will also explore how those words change depending on the content.

Combining Fiction and Poetry

When: 10am, Sunday, November 8

Lang Leav, the bestselling author of Lullabies, will discuss how poets can transition to writing novels. She will elaborate on her personal journey as a poet and fiction writer, giving advice to poets who also want to make the transition.

Meet Ian Rankin

When: 3pm, Monday, November 9

Ian Rankin, the bestselling writer behind the Inspector Rebus series of detective novels, will discuss the excitement and stresses in keeping the suspense and maintaining a crime series character.

Influence of Modern World on Writing of Today

When: 1pm, Tuesday, November 10

Journalist and the author of Ladies Who Punch: Fifty Trailblazing Women Whose Stories You Should Know, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown will be in conversation with Iraqi writer, poet and translator, Muhsin Al Ramli. They will compare their works both as journalists and commentators on the modern world, and how this influences them when writing their books.

Social Media During the Pandemic

When: 5pm, Wednesday, November 11

Alexandra Maia, founder of House of Social, will examine how social media played a pivotal role in spreading information and misinformation about the pandemic as it took hold.

Two Worlds

When: 1pm, Saturday, November 14

Ugandan novelist Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Emirati novelist and poet Sultan Al Amimi will be in conversation about their works, discussing what influences them and how the distinctive oral traditions of Africa and Arabic storytelling has shaped their writing.

For more information or to sign up to attend, visit