Hay Festival Highlights – Day 1

Salman RushdieMy first impression of the Hay Festival was that it actually feels like it’s indoors, with only a few select squares of grass to remind us that it’s not. My second impression was that it is surprisingly easy to get lost, considering I’m someone who tends to be able to find my way around new places quite easily. I think perhaps that’s because it is so full of people that you spend half your time trying not to bump into anyone, rather than actually looking around you, but it’s certainly a great place for people watching!   

Here are some photos from my first day at Hay, interspersed with some interesting comments from Salman Rushdie, who spoke about the writing process, sci-fi and magical realism…

Rushdie talked about how his most recent book, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights, came about because he had previously been writing a very long memoir: “I think I got sick of telling the truth”. He also wanted to revisit the stories which made him fall in love with literature in the first place – Indian myths and fairytales which, he said, were actually “very contemporary pieces about the real world ”. He wanted to “write a novel about now, but using the fable style”.

hay festival

A mega queue for the ice creams

Rushdie admitted that at a certain point it “becomes a sci-fi novel” and spoke about how he used to read a lot of sci-fi, which he likes because it is “a very good vehicle for exploring ideas”. He spoke about sci-fi trends and how the films have changed things, and also decided that it would be a brilliant irony to turn one of his characters (a man who creates unsuccessful superheroes) into a graphic novel.

camping at hay festival

The camping experience seems to have gone well so far…

Rushdie also spoke about how strange it is to write a novel (which is a very private process) and then “put it out there” and hope that “people get it” and suddenly it becomes public. He did point out as well that when people hear the phrase ‘magical realism’, they tend to only hear the word ‘magic’ but, he explained, it’s “fantasy deeply rooted in reality” and he described this latest work as “the most fantasticated book I’ve ever written” but added that “it’s about the world we live in now”.

There was a hilarious moment when a member of the audience asked Rushdie what his thoughts were on the publicity which now seems to follow him everywhere, and he replied by saying “Don’t read that nonsense – Read this nonsense”, pointing at his own book.

Overall, a slightly surreal first day, but absolutely perfect weather for camping!

people everywhere at hay festival

A few small patches of grass – people reading and enjoying the sunshine

Top photo taken by Marsha Arnold, others taken by myself

2 thoughts on “Hay Festival Highlights – Day 1

  1. Pingback: The Hay Festival on a Budget – A Survival Guide for Stewards

  2. Pingback: Lit Fest Highlights of 2016

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