This year, the day we chose to go to the Hay Festival the sun was shining and all felt right with the world.
We try and go to the festival every year and usually pick a suitable day well in advance
We find three or four events on that day to attend which means we can immerse ourselves in the whole atmosphere over a six or so hour period and at the end escape the crowds and head back home.
This year was no exception and as ever we had a great time listening to people who have interesting, funny and sometimes thought provoking things to say.
We chose event numbers 90, 103 ad 109
The programme indicates there are 414 events, but new events are put on after the catalogue has been printed, so we can safely say there are more than 420 events to choose from!
At 2.30 Kazuo Ishiguro talked to Martha Kearney about his new novel The Buried Giant. I am half way through the book and am enjoying it although possibly not as much as either ‘Never Let Me Go’ or ‘The Remains of the Day’ which he wrote a decade or two ago. Listening to him talking about the book was enlightening and gave me new insight into his thought processes which is helpful.
Ogre prejudice was talked about
He said it was a story in search of a setting and debated the publishing world’s insistence on putting novels into genres when really he didn’t believe that books should be forced into these boundaries. He was very funny when he was talking about ogre prejudice and I understood that I had also had ogre prejudice about the book - which has ogres and fantasy characters and normally I wouldn’t have chosen to read a book about such things - but bought it because I like his style!
The whole talk was recorded and apparently can be found on iplayer, but as I write it hasn’t yet been loaded up. This link will take you to the BBC Arts at the Hay Festival episodes.
One of many bookshops
After sampling some delights of the food hall, we queued up for our next event. It was Owen Sheers talking to Alex Clark. Owen interestingly referenced Ishiguro in his talk. He explained that Kazuo’s style was very obvious and he aspired to that for his own writing so that people would recognise his style whether he was writing poetry, prose or scripts!
He also commented on the publishing world forcing books into genres and said his new book, ‘I Saw A Man’ has been called a thriller, although he wasn’t so certain it is. I liked the sound of the book and intend to buy it forthwith!
Owen is an interesting local lad who has many different projects on the go. I have read his book Resistance and seen the film and am inspired to read not only his latest novel (not out in paperback until later in the week) but also want to read The Dust Diaries which he mentioned and is a non fiction book about one of his relatives.
Feeling very inspired we made our way to the 7.00pm event. When I had booked the tickets, we didn’t know who we would be listening to as the event was entitled ‘Marina Warner talks to the Winner of the Man Booker International Prize’. The winner was announced on 19th May and here he was, just a few days later talking in front of a large audience.
The usual format is for the author to have a conversation with someone, perhaps read from their book and then take questions. Kazuo didn’t read from his book, but Owen did and they both took questions
The Man Booker International Prize winner, Laszlo Krasznahorkai had indicated to his interviewer that he wouldn’t take questions from the floor, but would be happy to talk to anyone who wanted their book signed in the Hay Festival book shop! He was very softly spoken and his English at times was hard to follow, but he read from his book in both English and Hungarian and that was the best bit of the hour that we spent in his company!
Just before heading home we met up with some friends for a quick hello and then it was back home to reflect on all that we had heard - if you get a chance to go to the Hay Festival, do take it.