In this episode, Andrea and Annabelle are joined by author Nadia Wassef who talks about her fabulous memoir Shelf Life, Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller, and the foundation’s own Dania Droubi joins the conversation about the Russian Dolls (or piñata cakes) of literature: books about books.
Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A misanthropic bookseller who doesn’t like books, a baby found in the children’s section of the book store, and a stolen priceless treasure – this book has a lot going on and Dania can’t recommend it enough.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and broke family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere, waiting for her father to write another Important Novel that will lift them back out of poverty. Her older sister reads Jane Austen novels and longs for romance. Thankfully, the Cottons inherit the estate and arrive from the US with two eligible young brothers in the family, and the stage is set.
The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams
Swansby's New Encyclopaedic Dictionary is riddled with fictitious entries known as mountweazels penned by Peter Winceworth, a man wishing to make his lasting mark back in 1899. It's up to young intern Mallory to uncover these mountweazels before the dictionary can be digitised for modern readers.
Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef
In 2002, with her sister, Hind, and their friend, Nihal, Nadia founded Diwan, a new kind of independent bookstore. They were three young women with no business degrees, no formal training, and nothing to lose. This adventure took over their lives completely, and this book is a love letter to the business they created.
Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble.
Annabelle Corton is the English Programme Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.