As well as hosting one of the biggest literary festivals in the country, Hay-on-Wye is the official book town of Wales and home to over twenty bookshops. It was somewhat inevitable that I would end up visiting a few and making some purchases during my time at the festival last month…
Hay Cinema Bookshop
One of the first bookshops I visited was the Hay Cinema Bookshop with Francis Edwards Antiquarian Books on the top floor. I made three more visits during the week and still feel like I barely scratched the surface of this enormous shop which has been based in a converted cinema since 1965. It’s a bit like Baggins Book Bazaar – another very large second-hand bookshop in Rochester, Kent – but with a much wider range of fiction including a large amount of brand new remainder stock. I bought seven books from the shop which has an excellent range of translated fiction and literary biographies. Continue reading
On Saturday, my final day at the Hay Festival, I went to see Helen Macdonald deliver the Samuel Johnson Prize lecture at the Tata tent about ‘H is for Hawk‘ which has won both the Costa Book of the Year and Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction awards. ‘H is for Hawk’ was one of my favourite non-fiction books of 2014 and was the first memoir to win the Samuel Johnson Prize since its launch in 1999. The book comprises of three strands: Macdonald’s experiences of grief following the death of her father in 2007, her attempt to train a goshawk called Mabel and a biography of T. H. White. Her lecture focused on the former two aspects rather than T. H. White’s story. You can watch a clip of the event here where Macdonald describes meeting Mabel for the first time.
On Tuesday evening at the Hay Festival, I went to see Alexander McCall Smith in conversation with S. J. Parris at the Tata tent.
McCall Smith recently won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction for his novel ‘Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party’. As well as being a literary prize for one of the more neglected genres of fiction, it is notable for its unusual reward. Rather than money, the winner receives a jeroboam of champagne, the 52 novels by P. G. Wodehouse and a Gloucester Old Spot pig named after the winning novel. The event began with McCall Smith being presented with the champagne and 1 of the 52 Wodehouse novels having met the pig earlier in the day (you can watch the meeting here).
This week, I am very excited to be at the Hay Festival in Wales attending various events, browsing lots of bookshops and maybe purchasing one or two books…
The first event I attended on Sunday evening was the Man Booker International Prize winner László Krasznahorkai in conversation with Dame Marina Warner, the Chair of the Prize’s panel, on the Oxfam Moot stage. Since its launch in 2005, the Man Booker International Prize has been awarded every two years to any living author writing fiction in English or whose work is widely translated into English. Unlike its sister prize the Man Booker Prize, it is awarded in recognition of the author’s whole body of work rather than a particular novel.