Hay Festival – 2016

I spent the May Bank Holiday weekend at the Hay Festival, a ten day literary and arts festival held annually in Hay-On-Wye.  This was my fourth visit to the Hay Festival, and almost certainly not my last!

There are lots of things that I enjoy about Hay Festival:

  • The talks, and the variety in topics / authors
  • Comedy events in the evenings
  • The people – you WILL end up talking to some random strangers whilst queueing etc.
  • The location – Hay-On-Wye is a lovely place, full of second hand book shops to peruse
  • And, of course, the books

The Talks

I went to several talks which covered a range of topics, including:

Bletchley Park and Enigma – an insight into the code-breaking work undertaken during the Second World War, as well as a look at the lives of those involved.  No Benedict Cumberbatch in sight, however, although he did get a mention, but there was an actual Enigma machine present

Claire Vaye Watkins and John Wray – talking about their latest novels Gold Fame Citrus and The Lost Time Accidents respectively.  I’m reading Gold Fame Citrus at the moment, and absolutely loving it:

In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

For the moment, the couple’s fragile love, which somehow blooms in this arid place, seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins.

The Lost Time Accidents also sounds very intriguing:

Haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar ‘Waldy’ Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time. The world continues to turn, and Waldy is desperate to find his way back – a journey that forces him to reckon not only with the betrayal at the heart of his doomed romance but also the legacy of his great-grandfather’s fatal pursuit of the hidden nature of time itself.

Part madcap adventure, part harrowing family drama, part scientific mystery–and never less than wildly entertaining–The Lost Time Accidents is a bold and epic saga set against the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.

Salman Rushdie – talking about Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, a good vs. evil tale that spans 1001 nights:

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.

I really do think there’s something for everyone at Hay Festival, young or old, and whatever you’re interested in, be it fiction, politics, science, economics etc. – most topics get some coverage.  It’s a fun, friendly atmosphere and I’d recommend it to anyone.

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