Today I met a lady who'd visited the Book Festival annually for thirteen years! I also met a 12-year-old boy who'd been to the Book Festival every year of his entire life. A born fan, then. Both attest that it gets better by the year. They'd know.
In an event this afternoon, chair Rodge Glass was schooled by (a beautifully playful) Howard Jacobson on what authors he's allowed to say he enjoys. And the rule, apparently, is this: if you're chairing an event at the Book Festival, you are permitted only to adore the books of the author you're interviewing, and no other. Unless the other authors you're referring to are dead. That's allowed.
Time for quite an immature discovery. You may have seen the “Hopes of a Nation” board in the children's bookshop. It's full of sweet and inspiring thoughts from the kids that contribute to it. But take that same insightful child and put it with a group of its schoolmates, and what do you get? “Books are gay”. Ahh, hopes of a nation indeed!
Our Book Festival authors have some enjoyably unexpected backgrounds, and the list grows day by day. Politicians, artists, priests, police officers, chefs, film-makers, teachers, scientists, athletes, an Islamic fundamentalist, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain. See if you can guess who's who.
Howard Jacobson today spoke of a bittersweet honour. His work is packed with references to how the novel is failing and how literature is under-appreciated.
Unfortunately, in 2010 'The Finkler Question' won the Man Booker prize.
This ruined his point completely.