This year’s Hay Literary Festival kicks off in Wales next weekend. Last year was my first experience of this event which started with a few people around a kitchen table and is now one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK. I’ll be heading for the festival site nestling in the Welsh hills on the final Sunday of the event. Anyone else planning to be there??
There are just so many tempting speakers on offer again this year, it was hard to decide between them but there was one stand out speaker on the program for me – Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I heard a talk with her on BBC Radio 4 last year, not long after her third novel Americanah was published to great acclaim which made me wonder why it’s taken me so long to get to read her work. Her appearance at Hay is just the impetus I need to rectify that situation.
I’ve also persuaded my book group to make Americanah our choice for July. Quite a few members were very keen having enjoyed her Orange-prize winning second novel Half a Yellow Sun but a number of others were not that enthusiastic when they saw how many pages they’d have to read. There seems a reluctance to read anything longer than about 350 pages – I don’t know whether that’s just this group’s preference or whether it happens with other groups also where people think they won’t have enough time to read a long book by the next meeting.
The other event I’ll be attending is a discussion with the theatre and film director Richard Eyre who, amongst his many credits, is the man responsible for the magnificent Hollow Crown series of filmed versions of Shakespeare’s history plays. He’s going to be talking about the significance of the plays from Shakespeare’s second historical tetralogy, Richard II, Henry IV, Part I and 2 and and Henry V within the overall body of the Bard’s work and their role in our understanding of Britain’s identity.
I’m hoping I can squeeze in a third event if possible as well as a little mooch around the tea shops and second hand shops in Hay itself. I may even get tempted enough to buy a few new books ……..