The Amazing Shobhaa De

The last two days have been amazing – and full of outstanding women.

One of them is the excellent Shobhaa De – an Indian writer and broadcaster, and one firecracker of a speaker.

She was on the outstanding Women in Fiction panel at #shjibf with Kate Mosse , Oumaima Abdullah al-Khamis (Saudi Arabia) and Dr Ahdaf Suwaif (Egypt)which Lisa Dempster has written about beautifully already. It was bloody brilliant and highly charged.

Shobhaa is full of amazing, inspiring ideas. In a breathless hour she spoke of politics, power, feminism, aging, family, writing and so much more.

I make it sound cliché, but she’s positively electric. Her wit and a certain lightness of touch manage to freshen-up tired conversations to which so many worthy writers and events fall victim.

At 60, she’s a best-selling novelist, international phenomenon, journalist and mother of 6. Honestly, I don’t think the paparazzi bulbs stopped flashing during the entire talk.

She’s sparkling and clever and incredibly passionate – especially about the phenomenal growth and astounding opportunities arising in India today.

Sharjah International Book Fair 2012

Lisa took my photo at the signing

It was an intense hour and I’ve honestly been buzzing ever since.

I am highly intrigued by the bold new writing coming out of India – she’s made some fascinating suggestions I need to ferret out while I am here.

Plus, I’d love to learn more about the exploding market there. Every day you hear of bookshops folding and independent presses running dry. The press constantly bemoan the death of print – and the flagging subscription rate to broadsheets.  In India, however, the trend is for growth and demand – and at an astounding rate. There are more books, more stores, more newspapers  – more of everything it seems.

I picked up one of her books, my first purchase of the fair [if you don’t count my daily can of Coke to see me through the heat of the day].

I had it signed while a camera was rolling, so I may well be on the 6 o’clock news somewhere in the world. I have no idea.

It was incrediby inspiring on many levels.

She is exactly the sort of person I’d love to take out to dinner and just pick her brains. I hope someday I have the chance to do so. Wouldn’t that be a treat!


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