29 episodes

From Russian tragedies to Australian comedies, via Emirati slam poetry and Saudi science fiction, our appetite for words knows no bounds.

In our day jobs at the Emirates Literature Foundation, you'd normally find us planning the next Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, but the rest of the time we're guessing whodunnit, debating the ultimate feel-good novel, or reading the stacks of books that line our office walls.

As we are here in Dubai, one of the best connected cities in the world, we aim to bring you recommendations for books from all over the world. We are joined by a different writer in every episode so stay tuned.

Want to get in touch? Send us a message on comms@emirateslitfest.com

The Boundless Book Club Emirates Literature Foundation

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

From Russian tragedies to Australian comedies, via Emirati slam poetry and Saudi science fiction, our appetite for words knows no bounds.

In our day jobs at the Emirates Literature Foundation, you'd normally find us planning the next Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, but the rest of the time we're guessing whodunnit, debating the ultimate feel-good novel, or reading the stacks of books that line our office walls.

As we are here in Dubai, one of the best connected cities in the world, we aim to bring you recommendations for books from all over the world. We are joined by a different writer in every episode so stay tuned.

Want to get in touch? Send us a message on comms@emirateslitfest.com

    The Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlist episode

    The Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlist episode

    The Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist, in short, very interesting facts, and the predictions made by the Emirates Literature Foundation team

    • 26 min
    The I'm With the Band episode with Jessica Anya Blau

    The I'm With the Band episode with Jessica Anya Blau

    In this episode, Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle recommend books that have music at their heart before novelist Jessica Anya Blau stops by to chat about her latest book Mary Jane, the joy of 70s music, Keith Richards and more. You can expect a record store owner who uses music to navigate his breakups, hipster 'audio craftsmen' who are haunted by an eerie jazz tune and its dark history, and a summer nanny whose life is forever altered when a famous rock star and his wife move in next door.
    Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
    High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
    You can't have a conversation about books and music without mentioning this 1995 bestselling exploration of love and pain through pop culture, top ten lists, and the eyes of 35 year old record store owner Rob Fleming.
    White Tears by Hari Kunzru
    Andrea leaves us on the edge of our seat with this recommendation about two hipster record producers who tape a black man singing a blues song, and live to regret it. A ghost story that's also a meditation on cultural appropriation, and a dark period of musical history, it's like nothing you've ever read before.
    Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau
    If you're looking for the perfect summer read, try this coming of age story about a fourteen year old girl who is thrown into the chaos and drama of the family she works for over the summer in 1970s Baltimore, which only increases as a famous rock star moves into the family home to discreetly receive treatment for his drug addiction.
    About Jessica Anya Blau
    Jessica Anya Blau was born in Boston and raised in Southern California. Her novels have been featured on The Today Show, CNN and NPR, and in Cosmo, Vanity Fair, Bust, Time Out, Oprah Summer Reads and other national publications. Jessica's short stories and essays have been published in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. Jessica co-wrote the script for Love on the Run starring Frances Fisher and Steve Howey. She sometimes works as a ghost writer and has taught writing at Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College and The Fashion Institute of Technology. Jessica lives in New York.
    About us:
    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
    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 part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. 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.

    • 37 min
    The Unpopular Opinions episode

    The Unpopular Opinions episode

    Want to win books signed by the authors? Of course you do, and all you need to do is complete this survey: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/ahCNu5
    In this episode, we look at books and writers that put forward an unpopular opinion, including persuasive arguments for not becoming a mother, why you should be against empathy, and our author and editor guest Allison K Williams' opinion that not everyone has a book in them (that deserves readers).
    Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
    Motherhood by Sheila Heti
    A thoughtful novel for those who are interested in both unpopular opinions and unique writing styles, Sheila Heti's auto fiction is a writing woman's exploration of motherhood, particularly the taboo reasons why she would not want to shoulder the role society has laid out for women for centuries.
    Against Empathy by Paul Bloom
    If you're anything like us over at the Boundless Book Club, you might be surprised by Paul Bloom's assertion that empathy is not the guiding light it is portrayed to be. Andrea takes us through this psychologist's take on the dangers of empathy as a tool for decision-making and how rationality and compassion are the way forward if we want to make the world a better place.
    About Allison K Williams
    Allison K Williams is a Writer, Editor, Speaker and Writing Coach. She is the author of Get Published in Literary Magazines and Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro From Blank Page to Book which publishes later this year. She has edited and coached writers to deals with Penguin Random House, Knopf, Mantle, Spencer Hill, St. Martin’s and independent presses. She’s guided essayists to publication in the New Yorker, Time, the Guardian, the New York Times, McSweeney’s and TED Talks. Allison runs the Rebirth Your Book writing retreats virtually and around the world. As Social Media Editor for Brevity, she inspires thousands of writers with blogs on craft and the writing life. A former circus performer, Allison has written for NPR, CBC, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Creative Nonfiction, McSweeney’s, Kenyon Review Online and Travelers’ Tales.
    About us:
    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
    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 part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. 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.

    • 38 min
    The Access Denied episode

    The Access Denied episode

    This episode was recorded 25 April. Since then, we have seen heart breaking parallels between one of the books we discuss in this episode and the reality facing families in Sheikh Jarrah. Our hearts go out to the families affected, and we pray for a cessation and reversal of the evictions.
    In this episode, Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle discuss books that allow us access to places we would normally be denied, whether glimpsing the afterlife, exile, North Korea, or a fog-covered island dominated by a sinister cult.
    Author, translator and expert on North Korea, Immanuel Kim, joins us to share insight into one of the least visited countries in the world.

    Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
    Kololo Hill by Neema Shah
    Partly inspired by her grandparents' journey from India to East Africa in the 1940s and set during the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by Idi Amin in the early 70s, Neema Shah's debut multi-generational story of an Indian family forced to flee their home at the whim of the 'Butcher of Uganda' is a pacey and moving read.
    The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein
    Sometimes it's even harder to leave a place than it is to enter. This is the case in this psychological thriller about what appears to be the perfect island community, written by a former member of the Church of Scientology who was based at the cult's headquarters for 20 years.
    Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani
    The ultimate access denied that connects us all is the afterlife. This memoir details Moorjani's diagnosis with cancer, her subsequent near-death experience, how her healing process baffled doctors and how it helped her grapple with her own mortality.
    About Immanuel Kim
    Immanuel Kim is Korea Foundation and Kim-Renaud Associate Professor of Korean Literature and Culture Studies at George Washington University. He is the author of Rewriting Revolution: Women, Sexuality, and Memory in North Korean Fiction, and the translator of Friend by Paek Nam–nyong, one of North Korea’s most popular writers.
    About us:
    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
    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 part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. 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.

    • 47 min
    The And the Award for the Best Supporting Character Goes To.. episode

    The And the Award for the Best Supporting Character Goes To.. episode

    In this episode, as the Academy Awards have just announced their best supporting actors and actresses we found ourselves wondering who would win the Boundless Book Club trophy for best supporting character. Join Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle on a journey through some of their favourite supporting characters who definitely deserve more page time.
    Stay tuned for a fascinating roaming conversation with Jasper Fforde coming in around the 28 minute mark.
    Complete the survey for a chance to win fabulous books, perhaps even one signed by Jasper Fforde! https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/ahCNu5
    Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    I think you might be able to guess which jilted spinster Ahlam was drawn to in this classic about the young Pip, his mysterious benefactor, and his love for the beautiful Estella.
    The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The list of supporting characters in this beloved fantasy series is extensive, and mostly male, but the female characters of Middle Earth really hold their own. Can you guess which one Annabelle chose?
    The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
    This incredible book that has captivated readers all over the world stars two twin sisters whose paths in life diverge when they make very different choices that will affect the way they are perceived in a fiercely segregated time and place. But Andrea argues the bounty hunter on the sidelines needs his own show.
    About Jasper Fforde
    Jasper Fforde has been writing in the Comedy/Fantasy Genre since 2001 when his novel 'The Eyre Affair' debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list. Since then he has published fourteen more books, several of them bestsellers, and counts his sales in millions. 'The Constant Rabbit' will be his 15th novel. He lives and works in Wales.
    About us:
    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
    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 part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. 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.

    • 51 min
    The Ramadan Reading episode with Gelong Thubten

    The Ramadan Reading episode with Gelong Thubten

    In this episode, we look at books to read during the holy month of Ramadan. Ahlam gives us a whistle-stop tour of key facts, from fasting to the five pillars of Islam, before we speak to Buddhist Monk Gelong Thubten about all things mindfulness and meditation during Ramadan.
    Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
    Muslim Women Mystics: The Life and Work of Rabi'a and Other Women Mystics in Islam by Margaret Smith
    Ahlam recommends this introduction to the great Sufi thinker, Rab'ia of Basra, in a book that discusses the contribution made by Basra and other women mystics to Islamic heritage and history.
    Intuitive Fasting by Dr Will Cole
    Chiropractor and practitioner of functional medicine Dr Will Cole might not be Andrea's favourite science writer but the recipes in his book look promising if you're looking for steadier blood sugar and a healthier approach when breaking your fast.
    Breath by James Nestor
    Science writer and journalist James Nestor's ten-year foray into investigating the history of scientific breakthroughs and studies into the 'lost art of breathing' cover the importance of nose breathing, hypoventilation training in athletes, the correlation between breathing and prayer, and much more
    About Gelong Thubten
    Gelong Thubten is a Buddhist monk, meditation teacher, and Sunday Times bestselling author of A Monk's Guide to Happiness. His new book, a practical guide complete with meditation exercises, is titled Handbook for Hard Times: A Monk's Guide to Fearless Living, due to be published March 2022.
    About us:
    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
    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 part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. 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.

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

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Gagabongo ,

Great recommendations!

Like being in a book club, and I enjoy the wide list of authors and books.

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