e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “book festival”

From festival to festival

search-logoBrowsing around the web, as I do from time to time, I stumbled on the site of a magazine called Stylist. I’ve never heard of them before and style type things are not really my style, but one of their articles caught my eye.

It gives a list of what they consider the seven best literary festivals. The events they list are spread all over the country and through the summer. A quick google indicated there are many more festivals. If one had the time, the money and the stamina one could spend weeks on end festivalling – maybe with the odd music event in between.

Back to the seven best. How did they decide?

I imagine some exhausted junior reporter rushing, by bus, between events, staying in horrible b&bs, listening for hours to authors they don’t read, and then scribbling a brief report at 3:00 am to catch a deadline.

Or maybe a senior reporter samples the most interesting talks by authors s/he has read while sipping cocktails in the best hotels. The quality of the cocktails affects the report s/he dictates to the secretary.

Or maybe the editor calls the staff together in their coffee break and demands they each name a festival they’ve enjoyed in the past.

The method of info gathering affects the final list, which affects who attends which events and buys whose books, which affects the authors’ income and popularity with their publisher, which affects whose work gets published, promoted and read at next year’s festivals, and so on into the foreseeable future.


The Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference


Edinburgh Castle

This major event starts later this month and continues for a year. It is peripatetic and online and will cover a very broad range of topics of interest to writers and their readers.

Their website’s home page sums up what they are aiming for:

The Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference is a unique series of events that will bring writers together around the world to create an historic picture of the role of literature today.

The conversation begins at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where 50 world renowned writers will gather every afternoon from 17-21 August 2012 to discuss the five topics that almost brought writers to blows during the infamous Writers’ Conference of 1962.

Starting in Edinburgh, the World Writers’ Conference will go on to visit 15 different cities over the following 12 months giving writers in different countries the chance to add their voice to the growing debate about writing and its relationship to contemporary life.

The conversation will continue online, … on the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference website, with live broadcasts of the events in Edinburgh, videos of the international events and plenty of opportunities to have your say.

Questions like ‘Will the novel remain writers’ favourite narrative form?’ and ‘Should freedom of speech ever have limits?’ will be grouped into the main themes and discussed by writers and the public.

The main themes have been chosen to reflect those of the 1962 conference, called ‘infamous’ on the current conference home page (see above). At that time they roused a great deal of passion and argument and it will be interesting to see if they get the same response fifty years on, with a different group of writers. They are:

  • Should literature be political?
  • Style versus content
  • National literature
  • Censorship today
  • The future of the novel

The book festival mentioned above runs from 11 to 27 August 2012.

I’m looking forward to reading and hearing the discussions. A good many of the preoccupations of 1962 have now gone or been resolved, but others are still active and worth looking at again.

Photo from Free-Photo-Gallery.

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