• At the Dubai Literary Festival last week, with panellists JohnMcHugo (A Brief History of the Arabs), James Waterson (China’s Mongol Wars), Justin Marozzi (Baghdad) and Anchee Min, whose Red Azalea - a visceral, erotic memoir of life under Mao - is totally gripping. Besides being a terrific news presenter, Tim Willcox is a superb moderator. Thanks, Tim.
It’s an odd place, Dubai, glitzy, only half-made, and busy acquiring culture in the form of a fabulous opera house, opening later this year. There’s a lot of sand and not much rain. The once-in-a-century storm and the consequent floods were a surprise. Under the brilliant direction of Isobel Abulhoul, the main attraction (other than five-star accommodation) is the chance for hermit writers to meet others of their kind. And between sessions came the trips: to the half-mile-high Burj Khalifa, the royal stables and the desert.
• Other good news was that both Genghis and Attila will be published in Mongolian, by Monsudar and Nepko. Publishing in Mongolia is a strange business, because there are so few bookshops. Funding usually comes from sponsorship. The economics make no sense in traditional terms, so I have the Mongolian rights. But both Nepko and Monsudar have signed contracts, and even pay small advances. The tugriks (2,000 to the £, and rising) will come in handy for buying a meal or two on my next visit.
• And this article in the China Daily (click to zoom):