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The new time-shift novel from the global bestselling author of Lady of Hay mines Erskine’s own family history. Her heroine Ruth discovers a hidden diary from the 18th century, written by an ancestor, Thomas Erskine. As she sifts through the ancient pages of the past, Ruth is pulled into a story that she can’t escape. As the youngest son of a noble family Thomas’s life started in genteel poverty, but his extraordinary experiences propel him from the high seas to Lord Chancellor of England. Yet, on his journey through life, he makes a powerful enemy who hounds him to the death – and beyond. Ruth has opened a door to the past that she can’t close, and meets a ghost in her family tree who wasn’t invited.
Maarouf is an award-winning Palestinian-Icelandic writer and journalist whose short story collections are Jokes for the Gunmen and The Rats that Lick a Karate Champion’s Ears. Aged eight, Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother, and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel-turned-refugee-camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America. Now Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with those of other asylum seekers in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives and taking us through the stages of their journeys, from escape to asylum to resettlement, in her book The Ungrateful Refugee.
The winning author and translator of Celestial Bodies join us for a conversation with the chair of the jury. Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present.
Bettany Hughes says: “Through the different tentacles of people’s lives and loves and losses we come to learn about this society – all its degrees, from the very poorest of the slave families working there to those making money through the advent of a new wealth in Oman and Muscat. It starts in a room and ends in a world. We felt we were getting access to ideas and thoughts and experiences you aren’t normally given in English. It avoids every stereotype you might expect in its analysis of gender and race and social distinction and slavery. There are surprises throughout. We fell in love with it.”
Couto’s novel Woman of the Ashes masterfully interweaves history with folklore and has managed to create a work of rare originality and imagination set in 19th century Mozambique. Imani, a fifteen-year-old girl, struggles with her cultural identity as she is torn between her VaChopi roots and the occupying Portuguese. The three diaspora protagonists in Moore’s dazzling magical realist debut She Would be King meet in the settlement of Monrovia. Their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.
In Hammad’s debut The Parisian the First World War shatters families, destroys friendships and kills lovers, and a young Palestinian dreamer sets out to find himself. Midhat Kamal picks his way across a fractured world, from the shifting politics of the Middle East to the dinner tables of Montpellier and a newly tumultuous Paris. He discovers that everything is fragile: love turns to loss, friends become enemies and everyone is looking for a place to belong. Ladipo Manyika’s global bestseller In Dependence is a lyrical and moving epic of unfulfilled love fraught with the weight of history, race and geography. Tayo Ajayi sails to England from Nigeria to take up a scholarship at Oxford University. There he discovers a whole generation high on visions of a new and better world.
The author of What I Loved introduces her new novel. Fresh from Minnesota and hungry for all New York has to offer, twenty-three-year-old S.H. embarks on a year that proves both exhilarating and frightening – from bruising encounters with men to the increasingly ominous monologues of the woman next door. Forty years on, those pivotal months come back to vibrant life when S.H. discovers the notebook in which she recorded her adventures alongside drafts of a novel. Measuring what she remembers against what she wrote, she regards her younger self with curiosity and often amusement. Anger too, for how much has really changed in a world where the female presidential candidate is called an abomination?
Join us to celebrate this prestigious literary prize for writers aged 39 and under as the 2019 winner talks to Dai Smith, chair of the judging panel and Emeritus Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University. The short-list comprised Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Zoe Gilbert, Guy Gunaratne, Louisa Hall, Sarah Perry and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma.
The 2019 Winner has been annouced as Guy Gunaratne with his book 'In Our Mad and Furious City'.
Paris in 1117. Heloise, a brilliant young scholar, is astonished when the famous, radical philosopher Peter Abelard consents to be her tutor. But what starts out as a meeting of minds turns into a passionate, dangerous love affair, which incurs terrible retribution. Nine centuries later, Arthur is in Paris to recreate the extraordinary story of Heloise and Abelard in a novel. To his surprise, his daughter visits and agrees to help, challenging his portraits of a couple who seem often inscrutable, sometimes breathtakingly modern. It soon emerges she is on her own mission to discover more about her parents’ fractured relationship – and that Arthur’s connection to his subject is more emotional than he cares to admit.
There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – until now. Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? The Booker-winning novelist reimagines the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.
The new novel from the comic master, author of What A Carve Up!, The Rotters Club and The Closed Circle. Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever, Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change. “It was tempting to think, at times like this, that some bizarre hysteria had gripped the British people…”
The 2018 Man Booker Prize winner discusses her darkly funny novel set in 1970s Belfast with the prize’s director.
“In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous."
Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.
“Milkman is extraordinary. I've been reading passages aloud for the pleasure of hearing it. It's frightening, hilarious, wily and joyous all at the same time” – Lisa McInerney.
Conran’s Dignity is a powerful novel about belonging, race, British India and contemporary Britain, by the Dylan Thomas Prize-shortlisted author of Pigeon. Doshi’s Small Days and Nights is a captivating and original story of family, of the ties that bind and the secrets we bury, set against the vivid and evocative backdrop of modern India. Doshi is the award-winning author of Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods and The Pleasure Seekers. They talk to Oliver Balch.
The writer discusses his magnificent 2014 Siberian novel The People’s Act of Love and his new work of reportage Dreams of Leaving and Remaining – an anatomy of Britain on the edge of Brexit. He previews his forthcoming novel To Calais in Ordinary Time, a 14th century epic narrative.
Philippe Sands, Tishani Doshi, Ann Mroz, Daljit Nagra, Chris Riddell, Amol Rajan, Kate Nicholls and Jeanette Winterson
As part of the #BooksToInspire campaign, Festival guests bring the novels, poetry and non-fiction that first sparked their love of reading or set them off on a journey of discovery in their lives. #BooksToInspire is a campaign from Hay Festival and TES, inviting book recommendations for primary and secondary schools to inspire the next generation of world changers. Chaired by Peter Florence.
We are delighted to launch the new novel by one of the world’s great storytellers, the author of the Ibis trilogy. A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors but, as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way.
The new book by the author of Capital is a dystopian thriller set in a near-future Britain that invites comparison with Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Orwell’s 1984. Kavanagh begins his life patrolling the Wall. If he’s lucky, if nothing goes wrong, he only has two years of this, 729 more nights. But somewhere, in the dark cave of his mind, he thinks: wouldn’t it be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if you had to fight for your life?
Vuillard’s gripping The Order of the Day, a mesmerising work of black comedy, won the Prix Goncourt in 2017 and is regarded as one of the great contemporary novels. It tells the story of the pivotal meetings that took place between the European powers in the run-up to World War Two. What emerges is a fascinating and incredibly moving account of failed diplomacy, broken relationships and the catastrophic momentum that led to conflict.
This event will be conducted in French, with consecutive translation by Amanda Galsworthy.
The novelist reboots Mary Shelley for the 21st century, as a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love – against their better judgement – with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet? Winterson shows us how much closer we are to that future than we realise. Funny and furious, a celebration of the bodies we live in and the bodies we desire, Frankissstein is a love story about life itself.
A conversation with two very experienced and acclaimed writers venturing for the first time into fiction. Loudon’s My House is Falling Down is a vivid and compelling novel about a modern love triangle that asks some provocative questions: what happens when you tell the whole truth in marriage? Is it still infidelity if nobody lies? Can you really love two people at once? Rahim’s Asghar and Zahra is a funny, sympathetic and very human novel about the first year of a marriage, and the difficulties of reconciling the sometimes conflicting demands of family, religion and society.
Seymour’s new book is a double biography, In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter, Annabella Millbanke and Ada Lovelace. Her previous book was a lauded biography of Mary Shelley. Sampson’s brilliant debut biography is In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein. They compare notes on female genius, Romanticism, radicalism, the madness and badness of male poets, and the interplay of literature and the sciences, with Rosie Goldsmith in the chair.