Running through the heart of Colombia is a river emblematic of the fascination and tragedy of South America, the Magdalena, considered by some the most dangerous place in the world. Jacobs is captured by the FARC, has a chance encounter with Gabriel García Márquez and is brought to reflect on memory and identity, and the nature of mystery.
There is a burgeoning literature on end-of-life writing, on grief, bereavement and memorial. Edmund de Waal talks about mortality and how it is reflected across different genres and art-forms from the poetry of Anne Carson and Max Porter, the memoirs of Paul Kalanithi and Marion Coutts, to the writings of Atul Gawande and Julia Samuel. He will also discuss his own porcelain installations and collaborations that explore ideas of memorial. The Wellcome Book Prize lecture aims to celebrate the place of medicine, science and the stories of illness in literature, arts and culture, and how these stories add to our understanding of what it means to be human. Edmund De Waal, chair of judges for the 2018 prize, is an artist and writer, author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes and The White Road.
Retail and brand communication guru Mary Portas discusses her recently released memoir, Shop Girl, and shares her memories of growing up in Watford in the 70s and her first steps into the world of retail at Harvey Nichols and Harrods in the early 80s.
Born into a large Irish family, Mary’s childhood is full of love, laughter, fun and mischief. However when Mary is 16 tragedy strikes and her world is blown apart. New responsibilities at home mean her ambitions to act are pushed to one side. But things play out unexpectedly: after vowing she doesn’t want to work in a shop for the rest of her life Mary takes to the camp and glamour of dressing displays in Harvey Nichols and Harrods like a duck to water, and Mary, Queen of Shops is born.
She talks to Gaby Wood, the Telegraph’s Head of Books.
Lyrical, haunting and exquisitely rendered, Samson’s second novel The Kindness explores a deception that comes wrapped as a gift, a betrayal clothed in kindness, and asks if we can ever truly trust another. She’s written an unforgettable story of love, grief, betrayal and reconciliation, masterfully plotted and beautifully told. In Norris’ debut Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, the peace of a quiet evening in Salisbury is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small-town life.
At the age of 38, a Danish scientist, wife and mother of three, is struck down by an acute bout of bacterial meningitis. She awakes from a coma in intensive care to find herself locked in, unable to show she is conscious except by blinking her eye. It becomes her only form of communication as in the months that follow, Kjærgaard's husband Peter sits beside her helping to interpret every eye movement. She struggles with every basic of life – painfully learning how to breathe, move, eat and speak again. Despite being given a five per cent chance of survival, she works intensively to recover and to achieve every small breakthrough. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Hay stage with Bill Bryson, who has called this “the most spellbinding and harrowing story I believe I have ever heard”.
The writers of The Simpsons are so fascinated by mathematics that they have drip-fed morsels of number theory into the series over the last twenty-five years – so many that they could form the basis of an entire university course. The author of The Codebook and Fermat’s Last Theorem uses specific episodes to explain concepts ranging from pi and the paradox of infinity to the origins of numbers.
This year’s INSPIRE/ASLE-UKI Literature and Sustainability lecture is given by Richard Kerridge, nature writer, critic and author of Cold Blood. The lecture is followed by a discussion with the 2013 INSPIRE winners, Dr Jayne Archer and Prof Richard Marggraff Turley, and the chair of ASLE-UKI, Adeline Johns-Putra, chaired by the director of INSPIRE, Jane Davidson.
FREE BUT TICKETED
Narendra Modi’s pilgrimage to Tibet heralds a new warmth in Sino-Indian relations, but the emerging superpowers have a long and complex history of contested priorities in the Himalayas. Keay is author of Midnight’s Descendants, a sweeping history of South Asia; Duff’s Sikkim: Requiem for a Himalayan Kingdom tells the remarkable true story of India’s annexation of Sikkim in 1975. It’s a tale of love, intrigue and the Cold War in Asia.
Rosa María Calaf, former correspondent for Spanish broadcaster TVE and president of the Barcelona International Press Centre, Olga Rodríguez, a journalist and writer who specialises in the Middle East and Mayte Carrasco, a reporter in conflict zones (Telecinco television network and the newspaper Público) and researcher at the IECAH (Instituto de Estudios sobre Conflicto y Acción Humanitaria – Institute of Studies on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action), will talk about journalism, women and wars with the journalist Aurelio Martín.
Lucy Saxon is just 20 years old and the author of Take Back the Skies. She signed her contract with Bloomsbury when she was just 16. She’s a cosplayer, Con-goer and fangirl of all things sci-fi and fantasy. Taran Matharu’s The Summoner became a Wattpad sensation with over three million reads in three months, leading to a publishing deal with Hachette. And Helena Coggan saw her debut novel The Catalyst published at the age of only 15. Find out what makes three extraordinary young writers tick, and be inspired to write a novel before you are 20.