Talking of Books

Saturdays, 10AM-1PM

A bibliophile’s dream…

Every week co-hosts Isobel Abulhoul and Annabelle Corton are joined by an ever-changing cast of guest reviewers drawn from the UAE’s reading community. Each show features different literary anecdotes to improve your dinner party conversation, a star ‘Castaway’ guest recommending the three books they’d take to a desert island, the book-related questions you’ve always wanted to know the answers to in The Big Question, and not to mention in-depth reviews of books that haven’t even hit the shelves yet.

Talking of Books features regular interviews with today’s greatest writers, with previous interviewees including bestselling novelists Chris Cleave, superstar children’s authors Jacqueline Wilson, Andy Stanton and David Almond, internationally-renowned philosopher AC Grayling and rugby legend Brian Moore. And if you’re lucky enough you’ll catch Literary Soundtrack at the end of the show, highlighting a song inspired by literature every single week.





Young Reviewer – Phoenix by SF Said

A boy with unprecedented power must turn to the terrifying Alien enemies of humanity to discover his true nature and bring peace to a galaxy at war.

About SF Said

SF Said is an award-winning author. Said grew up in the Iraqi diasporic community in London, moving there with his mother at the age of two. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, he worked as a press attaché and speech writer for the Crown Prince of Jordan’s office in London. He began a Ph.D. in 1997 looking at the lives of young Muslims in Britain, but left academia to focus on film journalism for the Daily Telegraph – where he brought attention to much ‘world cinema’, including contemporary Islamic cinema – and writing for children.



Castaway Guest: James Kelley

James Kelley teaches, writes, and produces a bi-weekly podcast titled Executives After Hours. Also a bookworm, we ask him which three books he’d most prefer to be stranded on a desert island with.


Arab World Topic of the Week – The Naked Diplomat

This week we chat to the UK’s former Ambassador to Lebanon about his latest book Naked Diplomacy: Power and Statecraft in the Digital Age and his upcoming appearance at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature alongside Omar Saif Ghobash, the UAE’s Ambassador to France.

About Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher CMG is a Visiting Professor of International Relations at New York University, and an Advisor to the Global Business Coalition for Education and Emirates Diplomatic Academy. He was the Downing Street foreign policy adviser to three Prime Ministers and the UK’S Ambassador to Lebanon for a time.

Fletcher recently led a review of British diplomacy for the UK Foreign Office, and on the future of the United Nations for the new UN Secretary General. Naked Diplomacy: Power and Statecraft in the Digital Age was published June 2016 by Harper Collins.

He is an Honorary Fellow of Oxford University and blogs as the Naked Diplomat.

Fletcher is married to psychologist Dr Louise Fletcher, and they have two sons.


The Big Question – Writing Clinic – Opening Lines & Chapters (How to Prep for the Montegrappa Prize)

Flora shares tips and tricks to writing a story for the Montegrappa Prize.

About Flora Rees

Flora Rees is a book editor specialising in structural editing. After reading English at Oxford University, she worked in trade publishing in the UK for sixteen years before moving to the United Arab Emirates in 2015. She has been editing fiction since 2002, most recently as a senior editor at Headline Publishing Group.

Rees has worked closely with many authors across a range of genres, from crime and thriller to reading group and historical, and has edited international bestseller Victoria Hislop since her debut novel, The Island.

She lives in Dubai with her family.


Book of the Week

On this week’s episode of Book of the Week we look at the letter ‘I’.

Part 1 – ‘I’ is for India with Assistant Editor for Khaleej Times, Anamika Chatterjee’s review of Nine Lives by William Dalrymple, and in Part 2 ‘I’ is for Iceland with Rob Mitchell frequent reviewer and moderator for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature reviewing The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.


About Nine Lives by William Dalrymple

A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet – then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve herself to death. Nine people, nine lives; each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. William Dalrymple delves deep into the heart of a nation torn between the relentless onslaught of modernity and the ancient traditions that endure to this day. This title is longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

About William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland in 1965, and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He was educated at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Cambridge where he was first History Exhibitioner then Senior History Scholar. In 1986, while still at college, he set off to follow on foot the outward route of Marco Polo from Jerusalem to Mongolia and wrote a highly acclaimed bestseller about the journey, In Xanadu, when he was twenty-two. In 1999, he changed genres and after four books of travel, concentrated on the writing of history. He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, the Guardian, the TLS, and the New York Review of Books, and is the India correspondent of the New Statesman.

William is married to the artist Olivia Fraser and they have three children. They now live on a farm outside Delhi.

About The Legacy

The first in an exciting new series from the author of The Silence Of The Sea, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

About Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is an internationally bestselling crime writer from Iceland.

In 2015 she won the Petrona award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel. Her novels Why Did You Lie and Someone to Watch Over Me were selected by the Sunday Times as crime novels of the year.

Her first book in the new Huldar and Freyja series, The Legacy, won the Icelandic crime book of the year and the Palle Rosinkranz prize in Denmark in 2017 for best crime novel. It is currently being adapted for television.

The film adaptation of her prize winning horror novel, I Remember You, premiered in 2017.

Yrsa is a civil engineer by trade and still works as such in her native Iceland.





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