Last week, ahead of this year’s Hay Festival, an event was held in London with 5×15 to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary with stories from over the years. Snippet of my report for BookBrunch below, more after the link, as always. Thank you so much to Hay for such a lovely evening – cannot wait for this year’s festival! Get in touch if you’re going to be there too!
Last night saw Hay Festival mark its their 30th anniversary celebrations with an event at The Tabernacle in north-west London. In association with 5×15, Peter Florence and special guests, including Howard Jacobson, Elif Shafak, Helena Kennedy, Cressida Cowell, Tahmima Anam, Sarfraz Manzoor, Hannah Rothschild, Sarah Crossan and Philippe Sands shared some of their favourite memories of Hay throughout the years.
From Sands’ small and comical comment about long lunches at the Hague that turned into an international media sensation, to Anam’s recollections of bringing Hay to her hometown in Bangladesh, the night was by turns hilarious and serious. Every speaker was unanimously enthusiastic about Hay, with Safraz Manzoor coining the most popular phrase of the evening: “Hay is a drug-free way to get out of your head.”
“Hay made me understand that creativity is contagious,” Shafak said, adding how much the festival meant to her when freedom of speech in her own country of birth, Turkey, is under such great threat. “I come from a country where words are very heavy and to be a journalist, a writer, a poet – an intellectual – is difficult, and it is becoming more and more difficult… So it’s a country that teaches you that you can get into trouble for writing. But ironically, I think it also teaches you that words matter. There is almost an urgency in our need for literature, art and empathy… I do know that the urgency that we writers from Turkey, or Nigeria, or Pakistan, or Egypt – all those wounded democracies – the urgency that we have been feeling for a long time, I think the writers in the Western world are also beginning to feel. That is why I think we need Hay more than ever…” [READ MORE]