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Marina Warner talks to László Krasznahorkai

The Winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize

Hay Festival 2015, 

The chair of judges interviews the winner of the £60,000 2015 Prize, who was announced on 19 May in London.

Born in 1954, László Krasznahorkai gained considerable recognition in 1985 when he published Satantango, which he later adapted for the cinema in collaboration with the filmmaker Bela Tarr. In 1993, he received the German Bestenliste Prize for the best literary work of the year for The Melancholy of Resistance and has since been honoured with numerous literary prizes, amongst them the highest award of the Hungarian state, the Kossuth Prize.

Krasznahorkai and his translator George Szirtes were longlisted for the 2013 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for Satantango and Krasznahorkai has won the Best Translated Book Award in the US two years in a row, in 2013 for Satantango and in 2014 for Seiobo There Below. Seiobo There Below was published in the UK on 7 May by Tuskar Rock Press.

The judging panel for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize was chaired by celebrated writer and academic Marina Warner. The panel also comprised Wen-chin Ouyang, Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London; acclaimed author Nadeem Aslam; novelist and critic Elleke Boehmer, who is currently Professor of World Literature in English at Oxford University; and Edwin Frank, editorial director of the New York Review Books Classics.

The judges said of Krasznahorkai’s work: ‘In László Krasznahorkai’s The Melancholy of Resistance, a sinister circus has put a massive taxidermic specimen, a whole whale, Leviathan itself, on display in a country town. Violence soon erupts, and the book as a whole could be described as a vision, satirical and prophetic, of the dark historical province that goes by the name of Western Civilisation. Here, however, as throughout Krasznahorkai’s work, what strikes the reader above all are the extraordinary sentences, sentences of incredible length that go to incredible lengths, their tone switching from solemn to madcap to quizzical to desolate as they go their wayward way; epic sentences that, like a lint roll, pick up all sorts of odd and unexpected things as they accumulate inexorably into paragraphs that are as monumental as they are scabrous and musical.’

Announcing the winner, Marina Warner commented: ‘Laszlo Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range who captures the texture of present day existence in scenes that are terrifying, strange, appallingly comic, and often shatteringly beautiful. The Melancholy of Resistance, Satantango and Seiobo There Below are magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence. Krasznahorkai, who writes in Hungarian, has been superbly served by his translators, George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet.’

Marina Warner talks to László Krasznahorkai

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Ben and David Crystal

The Shakespeare Dictionary

Hay Festival 2015, 

Shakespeare is the best and most creative writer of the English language of all time. He deploys the widest and most thrilling vocabulary, drawing on classical and biblical scholarship and the keenest ear for human speech ever bent. And where the words he needed didn’t exist, he invented them. The classical actor and his father, the great Linguistics professor, entertain us with the most vital language ever used.

Ben and David Crystal

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James Clackson

Cambridge University Series 14: Migration and Language: Ancient Perspectives

Hay Festival 2015, 

What can we learn from the ancient Romans and Greeks about the impact of migration on language? And how is this relevant to contemporary concerns about immigration and language change?

James Clackson

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Jules Pretty

The Edge of Extinction

Hay Festival 2015, 
The natural world is rapidly diminishing. Traditions and cultures are dying out.
Extinction has denied many human groups and languages a future and it now
even threatens the ways of life of the affluent.
Pretty takes us on a personal journey to show why we should look again at those marginal communities who still live close to nature, the land and sea. The lessons these disappearing societies have to teach us may well be ones that we later come to rely on. Chaired by Andy Fryers.
Jules Pretty

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Robert Macfarlane talks to Horatio Clare

Woodland Trust Series 3: Landmarks

Hay Festival 2015, 

Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land, nature and weather. The author of The Old Ways, Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places shows that language, well used, is a keen way of knowing landscape, and a vital means of coming to love it.

Robert Macfarlane talks to Horatio Clare

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Marlon James talks to Martha Kearney

A Brief History of Seven Killings

Hay Festival 2016, 

An interview with the novelist, winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

“It’s like a Tarantino remake of The Harder They Come but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner, with maybe a little creative boost from some primo ganja. It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting – a testament to Mr. James’ vaulting ambition and prodigious talent.” New York Times

Marlon James talks to Martha Kearney

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David Crystal and Vicente Molina Foix

Talking About Shakespeare: Language

Hay Festival 2016, 

What did performances of Shakespeare’s plays sound like in his day? Linguistics professor David Crystal introduces OP (original pronunciation) and marvels at the wonders of the playwright’s revolutionary vocabulary. Molina Foix (who translates Shakespeare for contemporary Spanish theatre) considers the reality that most people in the world discover the great writer’s work in translation.

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David Crystal

Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation

Hay Festival 2016, 

The triumphant, concluding volume in David Crystal’s trilogy on the English language combines the first history of English punctuation with a complete guide on how to use it. The punctuation of English, marked with occasional rationality, is founded on arbitrariness and littered with oddities. Professor Crystal leads us through this minefield with characteristic wit and clarity. [DC on semi-colons is hilarious; also painfully funny on exclamation marks! Ed.]

David Crystal

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Ifor ap Glyn & Gillian Clarke

The National Poet of Wales / Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru

Hay Festival 2016, 

In his first official event as National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn will discuss Welsh literature with his predecessor, Gillian Clarke. Both poets will read from their work and share their stories and thoughts on this thriving scene.

Yn ei ddigwyddiad cyntaf fel Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru, bydd Ifor ap Glyn yn trafod llenyddiaeth Cymru gyda’i ragflaenydd, Gillian Clarke. Bydd y ddau fardd yn trin a thrafod byd barddoniaeth ac yn taflu ambell gerdd i’r pair hefyd. 

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David Crystal

The Gift of the Gab: How Eloquence Works

Hay Festival 2016, 

To launch his delightful and life-changing book on oracy and eloquence, the linguistics professor reveals the tricks of the trade about how to make a speech that’ll wow a wedding, ace an interview or rouse an army. Along the way he analyses Barack Obama’s rhetorically near-perfect Yes We Can speech, and shows how a command of language and delivery can win hearts and minds.

David Crystal

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Gordon McMullan and Katy Mair

By Me, William Shakespeare

Hay Festival 2016, 

McMullan and Mair have carefully selected the nine most fascinating documents held by The National Archives relating to Shakespeare’s life. Presented together for the first time, these are some of the most significant documents in the world that track Shakespeare’s life as a citizen of London, a businessman, a family man, a servant to the King, and even possibly a thief and a subversive. They explore both his domestic and professional lives, what it meant to live in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, and the social impact of his plays. McMullan is also the editor of the new digital Norton edition of the complete plays.

Gordon McMullan and Katy Mair

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Stanley Wells and Margaret Drabble

Shakespeare’s Circle

Hay Festival 2016, 

Wells introduces his anthology of essays about the actors, playwrights and family members around the bard, throwing new light on Shakespeare’s wealth, his family and personal relationships, his working life and his social status. Wells is one the world’s greatest Shakespeare experts, editor of both the Penguin and OUP editions of his work, President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and author, most recently of Shakespeare, Sex and Love and Great Shakespeare Actors. He is joined by the great novelist and essayist, Margaret Drabble, who started her working life as an actress at the RSC, and is a contributor to Wells’ new book, The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography.

Stanley Wells and Margaret Drabble

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Russell Jackson

Words, Words, Words: Speaking Shakespeare in the English-Speaking Cinema

Hay Festival 2016, 

Birmingham University Series

Film-makers are often attracted to Shakespeare’s plays with their vivid characters, exciting stories and scope for new takes on familiar subjects. But ever since the pictures started talking, the language has been a challenge both in quality and quantity; there isn’t the need for so much dialogue in a medium where showing trumps telling. Jackson has been text consultant for several feature films – including all of Kenneth Branagh’s versions of Shakespeare’s plays – and many stage productions. His books include Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema, Shakespeare Films in the Making, and The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film.

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Newport Red Cross Writers

Welcome to Wales

Hay Festival 2016, 

Amidst the numbers and summits of the refugee crisis, the voices of those who have fled conflict and persecution can be lost. Join us for readings from women across the world who have sought protection in the UK and learnt English with the British Red Cross in South Wales, where they have been writing about their experiences. Sharing their stories from the point of departure to their arrival in Britain, they write eloquently about the asylum system and life in the UK.

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Simon Horobin

How English Became English

Hay Festival 2016, 

The English Language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? The Oxford Professor investigates the evolution of the English language, examining how it continues to adapt, as English continues to find new speakers and new uses. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, he considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English Language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or are we witnessing its replacement by newly emerging Englishes?

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David Aaronovitch

The Christopher Hitchens Lecture

Hay Festival 2016, 

The journalist interrogates the ideas of safe space on campus, the psychology of “vindictive protectionism” and the practice of “no-platforming” speakers. In a political culture that is susceptible to polarisation, where social media amplifies grievance and offence, how do we wield free speech? Aaronovitch discusses his lecture with Clemency Burton-Hill. He talks about his memoir Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists on Sunday 

David Aaronovitch

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Rachael Jolley, David Aaronovitch, Laura Bates, Nikesh Shukla

The Index Platform: What’s Offensive?

Hay Festival 2016, 

What are the limits of free speech and civility? What is the nature of ‘offence’? What earns ‘respect’? If words can hurt you, are sticks and stones and broken bones the answer? Rachael Jolley is the editor of Index. David Aaronovitch writes for The Times. Laura Bates is Founder of the Everyday Sexism project. Nikesh Shukla is a novelist and editor of The Good Immigrant anthology to be published in September.

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