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.
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.