Hay Festival Winter Weekend 2023

Welcome to the Winter Weekend 2023 programme​. You can purchase individual tickets for in-person live events or, if you are unable to come to Hay, you can watch the festival from your own home with an Online Festival Pass.
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Event 1

Sebastian Faulks talks to Adam Rutherford

The Seventh Son

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

Sebastian Faulks, bestselling author of Snow Country and Birdsong, returns to discuss his latest novel. The Seventh Son confronts prescient issues of surrogacy and medical ethics, weaving a literary thriller revolving around a megalomaniacal tech entrepreneur and a very special – and unusual – child.

When a young American academic Talissa Adam offers to carry another woman's child, she has no idea of the life-changing consequences. Behind the doors of the Parn Institute, a billionaire entrepreneur plans to stretch the boundaries of ethics as never before. Through a series of IVF treatments, which they hope to keep secret, they propose an experiment that will upend the human race as we know it.

Seth, the baby, is delivered to hopeful parents Mary and Alaric, but when his differences start to mark him out from his peers, he begins to attract unwanted attention.

The Seventh Son is a spectacular examination of what it is to be human. It asks the question: just because you can do something, does it mean you should? Sweeping between New York, London, and the Scottish Highlands, this is an extraordinary novel about unrequited love and unearned power.

Faulks talks to scientist, writer and broadcaster Adam Rutherford.

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Event 6

Sarah Bernstein, Jonathan Escoffery, Paul Harding, Paul Lynch, Chetna Maroo and Paul Murray talk to Gaby Wood

Booker Prize Shortlist

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

Join Gaby Wood, chief executive of the Booker Prize Foundation, as she speaks to the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, just days before the winner is announced. The group discusses their work, the state of literature today, and what being nominated for the prize means to them.

The winner of the Booker Prize 2023 is announced on Sunday 26 November.

The leading literary award in the English-speaking world, the Booker Prize honours outstanding fiction and has the power to transform the winner’s career, as well as the lives of its longlisted and shortlisted authors. Recent winners of the prize include Shehan Karunatilaka, Bernardine Evaristo and Damon Galgut.

* Sarah Bernstein will join this event remotely and Chetna Maroo will make a digital pre-recorded appearance.

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Event 12

Matt Lucas talks to Jenny Valentine

The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

Laugh your socks off and take part in a singalong with comedian, writer and actor Matt Lucas in this interactive event to introduce his new children’s book.

The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas is about Leo, a boy who wishes away Christmas. But when he wakes up to find Christmas really has disappeared, Leo sets out on a mission to undo his wish.

Lucas has recorded 20 original songs to accompany the book, bringing the joy of a musical to book form. Join Lucas for a singalong in this early festive treat.

He talks to children’s author Jenny Valentine.

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Event 16

Louis de Bernières talks to Kim Sherwood

Light Over Liskeard

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

At the centre of Louis de Bernières Light Over Liskeard is Q, whose work as a quantum cryptographer for the government has led him to believe a crisis is imminent for civilisation. Looking for a simpler life and somewhere to hide out, he buys a ruined farmhouse in Cornwall and begins to build his own self-sufficient haven, while meeting the eccentric characters who already live on the moors nearby. A heartwarming novel, Light Over Liskeard pokes fun at modern mores, and makes us reconsider what is really precious in our short and precarious lives.

de Bernières is the bestselling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin. His recent books include the short story collection Labels, the children's book Station Jim and the poetry collection The Cat in the Treble Clef.

He talks to author Kim Sherwood, whose books include Testament and the 007 universe novel Double or Nothing.

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Event 22

Ava Glass and Kim Sherwood talk to Oliver Bullough

Spies, Lies and Illusion

 St Mary’s Church

Dive into the world of modern spies with Ava Glass and Kim Sherwood, as they introduce their new books and discuss the enduring appeal of spy fiction.

Sherwood’s Double or Nothing is the first in a trilogy of novels expanding Ian Fleming’s James Bond universe, and focuses on a new generation of spies. Johanna Harwood, 003, Joseph Dryden, 004, and Sid Bashir, 009, must work together to investigate Sir Bertram Paradise, a tech billionaire who claims he can reverse the climate crisis and save the planet.

Glass’ high-octane thriller The Traitor is set in the billionaires’ playground of the glamourous French Riviera as British agent Emma Makepeace goes undercover as a crew member on luxury super yacht to bring down its Russian owner and his supermodel girlfriend, who are suspected of procuring illegal weapons from the UK via a traitor. Witnessing a murder, Emma must find the traitor before he finds her.

Glass is a former civil servant with the highest security clearance bar one and prior to working at the Home Office was a crime reporter.

Sherwood is a novelist and a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh. Her award-winning debut novel Testament was released in 2018 and her book A Wild & True Relation, following a crew of smugglers in eighteenth-century Devon, was published this year.

They talk to author and journalist Oliver Bullough.

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Event 24

Miranda Aldhouse-Green and Daniel Morden

Enchanted Wales: Myth and Magic in Welsh Storytelling

 St Mary’s Church

Severed heads that can still talk, cauldrons with attitude, birds that can tell the future – the world of Welsh mythology is full of magic, heroes, tricksters and more.

In Enchanted Wales, Miranda Aldhouse-Green takes readers on a voyage through the key stories of Welsh mythic literature, and explores their ancient roots. The stories within Aldhouse-Green’s book explore our deepest questions about life and death, war and peace, and good and evil.

Storyteller Daniel Morden, the author of Strange Tales, brings the tales from Enchanted Wales to life.

Aldhouse-Green is professor emeritus at Cardiff University. A former president of the Prehistoric Society, she was the first recipient of the John Legonna Celtic Research Prize, awarded by the National Library of Wales in 1986.

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Event 25

Conn Iggulden

Nero: Proof Party

 Hay Castle - Clore Learning Space

Raise a glass to Conn Iggulden, one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today, at this very special proof party in Hay Castle. Conn will be giving an exclusive reading of Nero, the first instalment in his gripping new series about the Tyrant of Rome.

Nero’s mother Agrippina, granddaughter of Emperor Augustus, and sister of the brutal Emperor Tiberius is at the heart of this first instalment, which will be published in May 2024. She knows too well that the closer you are to the heart of the empire, the closer you are to power, intrigue and danger. But Agrippina sees that opportunity waits, even in your darkest moments. Her son is everything, and she can shape this boy into Rome itself – the one all must kneel before. But first, the two of them must survive.

This is a catered, standing reception and all attendees will receive a proof copy of the book.
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Event 28

Nii Ayikwei Parkes talks to David Olusoga


 Poetry Bookshop

Journey to a mythical Caribbean island with Ghanaian-British writer, editor and publisher Nii Ayikwei Parkes, as he talks to historian David Olusoga about his book Azúcar.

The novel follows Oswald Kole Osabutey Jnr, known as Yunior, who travels to the island of Fumaz where the revolutionary philosophy of peopleism keeps its flame alive against the forces of an old-style command centre political bureaucracy and a stifling trade blockade from the big imperialist neighbour to the North. There, he meets Caribbean-American college student Emelina Santos, heiress of the Soñada dynasty, and in the ensuing years Yunior and Emelina travel divergent journeys through history, music, myth and heartbreak; confronting the question of what it means to belong to a place or to another person.

Ayikwei Parkes is one of the UK’s leading Black voices, winning critical acclaim as a poet, novelist, broadcaster, and children’s author. His 2020 poetry collection The Geez was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, shortlisted for the Walcott Prize and was a Poetry Book Society 2020 Recommendation.

Olusoga is a historian, writer and broadcaster whose books include Black Britain.

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Event C9

Daniel Morden

The Voice in Shadow

 Hay Castle - The Great Hall

Prepare to be charmed, chilled and thrilled as Daniel Morden tells strange stories of the supernatural by candlelight in the evocative setting of Hay Castle’s Great Hall.

Morden has been telling traditional stories for more than 30 years, and weird tales are a particular speciality.

His books include Dark Tales from the Woods and Strange Tales. In 2017 Morden was awarded the Hay Festival Medal for his services to storytelling.

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Event 37

Stephen Fry

Mythos: The Illustrated Story

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

Prepare to be spellbound as Stephen Fry introduces a new, illustrated, edition of his bestselling Mythos, which retells the stories of Greek heroes and deities.

Fry perfectly captures some of the best known myths, from the birth of Athena to the story of King Midas, for the modern age. Fry shows how these stories, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists from Shakespeare to Walt Disney, are rich and deeply relevant to our lives.

Fry, president of the Hay Festival, is an award-winning comedian, actor, presenter and director. He is the bestselling author of four novels as well as three volumes of autobiography. Mythos, Heroes and Troy, his retelling of the Greek myths, are all bestsellers.

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