Saturday, Apr 14, 2012
One of the great things about a literature festival is the chance to hear writers whom you have grown to love, alongside writers you are about to discover and whom will become your future book companions over many years.
With less than four weeks to go until kick-off, we thought this would be a great time to introduce you to some of the great novelists that underpin this year’s event. (There are millions of descriptions of the novel but here’s one from Brooklyn College that we particularly like for its potted précis of the form.)
The novel is very much at the heart of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, not just as vehicle but as subject. Its opening paragraph alone manages to mention James, Eliot, Austen, the Brontes, Colette and Trollope! Here’s a link to NPR coverage of Eugenides including the opening paragraphs of the book, reviews, interviews and more.
Alongside Eugenides, great novelists Roddy Doyle and Sebastian Barry take the stage. Barry’s latest book is On Canaan’s Side and follows his 2008 Costa Award win for The Secret Scripture, celebrated here in a three minute film screened at the award ceremony which includes both the author’s lilting Irish tones speaking about the book, as well as some evocative Irish landscapes.
Lesser known, but not for long we predict, are three rising stars of the form: A.D. Miller, Jesmyn Ward and Charlotte Wood. Hailing from the UK, the US and Australia respectively all have achieved critical acclaim for their work and all will become much more widely known over the coming years.
Miller paints a picture of a slightly decaying Moscow in his Booker shortlisted work Snowdrops, slang for a corpse hidden by the Russian winter snows. Charlotte Wood delivers stories of “acuity and sensitivity” (The Australian) from the domestic lives of her characters. And Jesmyn Ward - who is filmed here at the National Book Prize for Fiction in 2011 following in the footsteps of some of the greats who have taken away the prize, including William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Updike, Eudora Welty, Philip Roth and E Annie Proulx - introduces us to a family fighting for survival in the lead-up to and during Hurricane Katrina, mirroring her own family’s experience.
Our advice: book to see them all, of course. Most economically, buy a Take 5 ($80 for five tickets) or Take 10 ($150 for ten tickets). The great thing is that not only do they deliver a discount but you can use them in any way you want: single tickets to 5 or 10 sessions, or multiple tickets (for you and your friends) for one or more sessions. It’s definitely the clever way to go.
Passes will also cover lots of other fiction sessions including a raft of New Zealanders (did you spot the Hay Festival prediction that Emily Perkins will be up for the Booker this year, or the wonderful coverage of Stephanie Johnson’s new novel The Open World in last week’s NZ Herald?) alongside international crime fiction master Peter James and chicklit provocateur Kathy Lette who we’ll talk more about next time.
So get booking.
Pictured: Jeffery Eugenides
Photo credit: Karen Yamauchi