The London Book Fair (10- 12 March 2020) has today announced Irish novelist, playwright and short story writer Edna O’Brien – consistently hailed as one the world’s greatest living writers – amongst its headliners for the 2020 Author of the Day programme alongside prize-winning Emirati poet and scholar Afra Atiq, and the internationally bestselling children’s author and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell. The annual programme brings together leading writers in London, the world’s creative capital, to showcase their work and celebrate their achievements with the international publishing industry.
With 2020 marking both the 60th anniversary of the ground-breaking debut Country Girls and UK paperback publication of celebrated new novel Girl (July 2020), The London Book Fair will honour Edna O’Brien on its opening day. O’Brien’s explosive debut exploring the lives of two young women was originally banned in Ireland and marked the beginning of a phenomenal literary career that now includes over twenty works of fiction. She is the recipient of many awards including, most recently, the David Cohen Prize for Literature, which recognised her as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, and the prestigious Le Femina 2019, prix special for her body of work.
As part of this year’s Sharjah Market Focus, The London Book Fair will welcome award winning Emirati poet Afra Atiq to headline the second day of the Fair. Regarded as the UAE’s first spoken word artist, Atiq’s work draws on the region’s historic tradition of oral poetry and brings it together with modern influences, moving between English, French and Arabic to address subjects such as feminism, body image, bullying and loss. She is a sought-after performer, scholar and vocal champion of the arts, regularly performing at festivals, schools and literary events nationally and internationally.
The finale of the 2020 Fair will welcome Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell as Children’s Author of the Day. Cowell is and the number one bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series and author of the Emily Brown picture books, illustrated by Neal Layton. Amongst her many achievements in the UK and internationally, the award-winning writer has sold over 11 million books in 38 languages, with How to Train Your Dragon adapted into a billion-dollar DreamWorks film series.
Jacks Thomas, Director, The London Book Fair, said:
“We are delighted to have such an eminent line-up of speakers joining us at this year ’s London Book Fair…”
Edna O’Brien – Author of the Day
Tuesday 10th March 2020
Edna O’Brien has written more than twenty works of fiction. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award, the American National Arts Gold Medal, the Frank O’Connor Prize, the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature and the David Cohen Prize for Literature. Born and raised in the west of Ireland, she has lived in London for many years.
Afra Atiq – Market Focus Author of the Day
Wednesday 11th March 2020
Afra Atiq is an Emirati poet, spoken word artist, and PhD candidate. With a passion for languages, she writes and performs in a blend of bilingual and trilingual poems in English, Arabic, and French.
She has been featured on numerous international platforms including in Kuwait, India, Germany, and the UK. Locally, Afra has showcased her work, most notably, on the Dubai Opera, Louvre Abu Dhabi, PublisHer summit, and Abu Dhabi Art.
Community and education are at the core of everything Afra does and she dedicates much of her time to school visits. She’s a founding member of Untitled Chapters (a thriving community of Emirati women writers).
Academically, Afra has a master’s degree in diplomacy and is conducting research as a doctoral candidate on Instagram and the Arab literary ecosystem. She has also published research on reading in the UAE.
Cressida Cowell – Children’s Author of the Day
Thursday 12th March 2020
Current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell is the number one bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series, and the author of the Emily Brown picture books, illustrated by Neal Layton. She has sold over 11 million books worldwide in 38 languages. How to Train Your Dragon is also an award-winning billion dollar DreamWorks film series, and a TV series shown on Netflix and CBBC; The Wizards of Once has also been optioned for film by DreamWorks. Cressida is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, a trustee for World Book Day and a founder patron of the Children’s Media Foundation.
She has won numerous prizes for her books, including the Blue Peter Book Award, the Ruth Rendell Award for Championing Literacy, Gold Award in the Nestle Children’s Book Prize, the Hay Festival Medal for Fiction, and Philosophy Now magazine’s Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity.
She grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland and she now lives in Hammersmith with her husband, three children and a dog called Pigeon.
About The London Book Fair Author of the Day Programme
Writers are at the heart of The London Book Fair and every year the fair offers a single author a platform to showcase their work to an international audience on each day. First introduced in 2006, Author of the Day is now established as a key element of the fair, with the authors benefitting from broad marketing support and a headline slot on the London Book & Screen Week programme. Previous Authors of the Day have included: Judith Kerr, Marian Keyes, Jeanette Winterson, Boris Akunin, Malorie Blackman OBE, William Boyd, Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson, Bi Feiyu, Sun-mi Hwang, Peter James, Elif Shafak, Valeria Luiselli, Deborah Moggach, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Ness, David Nicholls, Liz Pichon, Sir Terry Prachett, Axel Scheffler, Claire Tomalin, Joanna Trollope and Jacqueline Wilson.