The inaugural Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature, (EAIFL), got off to a rocky freedom-of-speech-debate-start involving bans, departures and slightly-humbled returns for authors, as we well know. It concerned Geraldine Bedell's book, but I am not going there as this is not the purpose of this post.
The Bookseller promised some live blogging from the event, but the delivery from Mr and Mrs Mosse (Greg and Kate) was not quite so in the end. Three/four posts at most, between them? But the readers and commentators were not happy at the freedom of expression issue, thus we could see few, but very damning comments added to their posts: those at Dubai were into self-justification to support and ratify their "jolly". Linking to the thrust of that debate is as weak as the debate itself (given the curious nature of its roots, latterly revealed), thus I shall not expend the energy.
If you feel like a bit of insight into the festival proper, try out these links:
British crime writer and film producer Peter James recalls one element of his Dubai experience here.
There was a literary festival in Dubai and the people concerned and engaged worked hard for it. In these times of recession, the number of UK journos actually being there beggars belief for me, but, like a couple of my friends in Canada, I recognise that we Brits remain in hope of "all for the best" and haven't yet got over the fact that our economy is in severe jeopardy (near bankruptcy). Jollies in the osmosisly-plump-rich Dubai now seem so ridiculous and so last decade. When will we Brits wake up and read the small print?
I believe the all too visible and promoted wealth of Dubai was part of this lit fest's problem and stoked the fires of the controversy. Where Rome burned, Nero fiddled. Where the affluent Dubai celebrated the literary, the rest of the world was caught up in recession/depression and very, very scared.
It's not just about freedom of expression, it's about life in general. And how we live determines our future. Please take some time to manufacture your thoughts, as I am doing.