Thursday, May 29, 2008

On literary festivals that I can't get to and a recommended reading list of authors that I can . . .

One of the things on my "to-do list" before heading to that great library in the sky, is to someday make it to the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival. Not only because the small Welsh town is host to numerous bookstores, but because I drool every year over the line-up of great authors they attract for their annual literary celebration. Alas, I'll probably have to wait until retirement as it always conflicts with Canadian conferences I have to work at.

This year, the Hay Festival is celebrating their 21st birthday and they've come up with a list of 21 authors who are appearing on their stages, "who may not be so familiar, but who we think are remarkable. Some are first time writers, some are huge stars in other languages. They’re all cracking reads." You can read the full list here and download sample chapters. And the Guardian chimes in here.

Some familiar names from our spring Dewey presentations include Jhumpa Lahiri, Nikita Lalwani, Catherine O'Flynn and Tom Rob Smith. I have the galley for Nick Harkaway's upcoming book The Gone-Away World in a pile at home (he's the son of John Le Carré but this debut novel is literally worlds away from spy thrillers), and I've long been wanting to read Daniel Kehlmann and Steve Toltz.

Then there's the Charleston Literary Festival near Lewes, that takes place in the former farmhouse belonging to painters Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, and frequent haunt of the Bloomsbury Group. This year's festival just wrapped up, but again, feast your eyes on the line-up (and very funky website) What I wouldn't have given to hear Jonathan Coe and Carmen Callil discussing Viragos! Sigh. Some day . . .

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