Tag Archives: Kapka Kassabova

Hay Festival Yesterday

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It has been a truly wonderful festival so far. I discovered the Hay Player is available for just £10 for a year and the films they have archived go back as far as 1995, so if you are in a position to invest/buy anything right now you could have all of this Hay material for less than one book costs! Over 8000 talks.

I started with Devi Sridhar, who is a great speaker (academic) and answered the questions well. It made a lot of sense to listen to analysis from a global health specialist who is not afraid to be declarative. She talked with sense about the public health response, global rules and the speed of research. Very informative, straight talk, if only she was a politician!

Devi Sridhar

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

An exacting analysis of the responses to the covid-19 pandemic from one of the world’s most respected experts. Professor Sridhar is chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, and co-author with Chelsea Clinton of Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? Chaired by Daniel Davis.

HAY Devi

Then as a complete change of pace I went to listen to Hannah Rothschild talk about her new novel. I enjoyed listening to Hannah talking about her characters and wish there had been slightly more coverage of her book. She talked with honesty about her career, male heavy boards and the needs to diversify. Although I had to smile at her dressing down being an M&S suit! How the other half and all that. I found it mildly frustrating that Rosie Boycott interrupted answers throughout the interview.

There was a discussion about COVID/Social Distancing and the problems with theatres/museums. 70% of Theatres may disappear by Christmas unless the government can fund a rescue package. Which I have to say seems highly unlikely.

Regional museums and theatres are in real crisis – our Arts Centre has shut and our Museum of Historic Buildings is under threat also.

Hannah Rothschild talks to Rosie Boycott

FICTIONS: HOUSE OF TRELAWNEY

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The new novel from the author of The Improbability of Love, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, is a mischievous satire of English money and class. The seat of the Trelawney family for over 800 years, Trelawney Castle was once the jewel of the Cornish coast. Each successive Earl spent with abandon, turning the house and grounds into a sprawling, extravagant palimpsest of wings, turrets and follies. But recent generations have been better at spending than making money. Now living in isolated penury, unable to communicate with each other or the rest of the world, the family are running out of options. Three unexpected events will hasten their demise: the sudden appearance of a new relation, an illegitimate, headstrong, beautiful girl; an unscrupulous American hedge fund manager determined to exact revenge; and the crash of 2008. A love story and social satire set in the parallel and seemingly unconnected worlds of the British aristocracy and high finance, House of Trelawney is also the story of lost and found friendships between three women. One of them will die; another will discover her vocation; and the third will find love.

Hay Hannah

 

This was another interesting project to discover. They talked about the collective trauma that Europeans suffered (and recovered from). War, conflict and the importance of what it means to be European.

‘There is unlimited potential to do things differently.’

HAY EUR BOOK

Kapka Kassabova, Caroline Muscat, Zsofia Bán and Sophie Hughes

EUROPA 28

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

We celebrate four of the contributors to the Hay Festival Europa 28 project, part of the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020. With so many flare-ups of nationalism and isolationism in recent years, there is a sense that Europe needs to be fixed, or, at the very least, profoundly reconfigured; whether it is to address the grievances of those feeling disenfranchised from it, or to improve social cohesion, or even continue to exist as a democratic transnational entity.

Bringing together 28 acclaimed women writers, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs from across Europe, this powerful and timely anthology looks at an ever-changing Europe from a variety of different perspectives and offers hope and insight into how we might begin to rebuild.

Kassabova is Bulgarian by birth and lives in Scotland. She is the author of Street Without a Name, Border and To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace. Muscat is one of Malta’s leading investigative journalists. She contributed to and co-edited the book, Invicta: The Life and Work of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Bán is a Hungarian writer, critic and scholar. Her recent works include the novel, Night School: A Reader for Grownups, and The Summer of Our Discontent. Chaired by Hughes, a leading literary translator and the editor of the Europa 28 anthology.

 

DO NOT miss this one!

Ingrid Persaud and Jessie Burton

FICTIONS: LOVE AFTER LOVE – THE CONFESSION

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this event, the authors sharing their lockdown pleasure – a new dog and a box set. It was good to hear about the books and the readings. It was a wonderful interview.

Jessie Burton talking about Art and how to manage yourself within that was good. She was talking about Connie (her character) at the time. And Ingrid Persaud talking about appreciating the state of non-belonging and existing in space where you’re allowed to be the insider/outsider. Her book crosses three countries, as has her life. This is how my younger self felt as I moved around so often and didn’t feel roots set anywhere other than in the memory of childhood.

There were fascinating answers and discussion from both authors. On love, the burden of love, life, childhood, distance, relationships between characters, on writing, editing and a whole myriad of topics. A very rich event.

Jessie tells us to ‘trust the process’ something I have heard so many times in events in the past 3 months and something I know but I find hard to do. Important for writing well though. I could have listened to this for hours, it was magical! Lennie Goodings excelled in her role as chair/interviewer.

Although I appreciate the emphasis this year on COVID and science it feels like Hay when you watch authors talk about books. Fiction is healing. As Jessie said ‘never underestimate the power of reading and the comfort it can bring, just the act of a private meditation like that is still so valuable.’ And Ingrid has found it comforting to read during lockdown, ‘I can’t leave my own mind without reading.’ I know I could choose not to watch the other events, but I am curious – it’s not always a bad quality.

Ingrid Persaud and Jessie Burton

FICTIONS: LOVE AFTER LOVE – THE CONFESSION

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

A conversation with two extraordinarily gifted and compelling novelists.

Persaud’s Love After Love introduces: Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, who form an unconventional household, happy in their differences, as they build a home together. Home: the place where your navel string is buried, keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world. Happy and loving they are, until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.

In Burton’s The Confession: One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever..

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, The Confession is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves. 

Chaired by Lennie Goodings, author of A Bite of the Apple: A Life with Books, Writers at Virago.

 

After leaving the magic of this event (which for me is in my top 3 events so far along with An Evening with an Immigrant… Inua Ellams and A Night in with the Wordsworths) but as I had watched the first film on the Europa project I thought I would attend the second one too.

Which was an interesting discussion between the authors on identity, Brexit, lack of solidarity, xenophobia, social economic transformation, can we re-imagine this Europe after the pandemic. Local state trusting being better than national state, a collective fear and new boundary lines, individual responsibilities. Solace with these new online communities. Female leaders. The refugee crisis. They covered a range of ideas.

On talking about the anthology – the growth of mythical stories, stories that are close to our hearts, mean something to us. The pandemic as a moment of potential to create change. Deep participation. Connect together to thrive and grow. New social models are growing, providing the seeds of how we could redesign.

‘There’s no need for a story, life alone is enough.’ – Beckett opens a discussion to the narratives we have been given, the stories we tell ourselves. Who benefits? … The scars of Europe. Challenging the archetypes. Finding new ways to listen. ‘Freedom starts in the republic of the imagination.’

This event is definitely worth watching. Another one NOT TO MISS!

Leïla Slimani, Lisa Dwan, Hilary Cottam and Sophie Hughes

EUROPA 28 – A SENSE OF RENEWAL

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

We celebrate three more contributors to the Hay Festival Europa 28 project, part of the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020.

Moroccan-born Slimani won the Prix Goncourt for her novel Lullaby, and is the author of Adèle and Sex and Lies. Dwan is an Irish actor whose Beckett performances have toured the world. She has recently collaborated with Colm Toibín and Margaret Atwood. Cottam is a social activist and the author of Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us & Revolutionise the Welfare State. They talk to Sophie Hughes.

 

I then watched this event on catch up. It feels like an honour to watch a Nobel Prize winner. Amazing to think that the image of the globe was embargoed, even though they knew before the image appeared that the Earth was round. I enjoyed learning more about the planets. I am fascinated by Cosmology, I have never seen a sunspot close up, or a map of the star neighbourhood! It was amazing. Technical, as you would expect from James Peebles.

James Peebles

COSMOLOGY’S CENTURY

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A spectacularly illustrated lecture by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist P. J. E. Peebles, tells the story of cosmology from Einstein to today. Modern cosmology began a century ago with Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and his notion of a homogenous, philosophically satisfying cosmos. Cosmology’s Century is the story of how generations of scientists built on these thoughts and many new measurements to arrive at a well-tested physical theory of the structure and evolution of our expanding universe.

 

And on replay I caught the final event of Tuesday with poet Eric Ngalle Charles.

This was a great finish to a day filled with wonder and inspiration. I would have been exhausted had I been in real life Hay!

A world citizen with so much to teach us Gill said in the comments and that is so true.

Eric Ngalle Charles talks to Peter Florence

I, ERIC NGALLE: ONE MAN’S JOURNEY CROSSING CONTINENTS FROM AFRICA TO EUROPE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

We celebrate the extraordinary autobiography of the Wales-based playwright and poet. Eric Ngalle thought he was leaving Cameroon for a better life… Instead of arriving in Belgium to study for a degree in economics he ended up in one of the last countries he would have chosen to visit – Russia. Having seen his passport stolen, Eric endured nearly two years battling a hostile environment as an illegal immigrant while struggling with the betrayal that tore his family apart and prompted his exit. This painfully honest and often brutal account of being trapped in a subculture of deceit and crime gives a rare glimpse behind the headlines of a global concern.

HAY Eric