Marina Lewycka talked of her recent novel, We Are All Made of Glue, and read a very moving account of the terror inflicted on Palestinians to drive them out of occupied Palestine. She said the passage in her book was based upon a real incident of Israeli soldiers entering a village in 1948. Talking with her later she said she had travelled to occupied Palestine to research her book.
Ma Jian was an eyewitness to the Tiananmen Square massacre twenty years ago. He has woven his account into a novel, Beijing Coma. The massacre is seen though the thoughts of student shot in the back of the head, now lying in a coma. This he discussed at an event hosted by Amnesty International. Following the massacre there was mass brain washing, wiping Tiananmen Square from the collective consciousness. The young are not aware the massacre took place and if told the reaction is one of disbelief. Ma Jian compared it with George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four and that is why he believes it is so important to keep the memories alive.
It was an excellent idea the book festival being their own bookseller, enabling books to be available at a discount. Sour grapes by Waterstone's, no support for the festival, no window display in either of the Waterstone's in town. View of a Waterstone's insider: It's embarrassing.'
It was also an excellent idea leaving books lying around for people to pick up and read and then pass on. I suggested that they registered these books on BookCrossing.
The book festival volunteers were very good, but very poor use was made of twitter and facebook. No regular updates during the festival. Comments festival goers made on twitter and passed on to @gfordbookfest should have been re-tweeted and passed on for all to see to have some discussion taking place.
Wish list for next year: Paulo Coelho, Orhan Pamuk, Arundhati Roy, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Pascal Mercier, Alyson Hallet, William Brodrick, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Steve Galloway, Mark Slouka …
The Anarchist Bookfair takes place in London on Saturday 24 October 2009.
Guildford Book Festival 2007
Guildford Book Festival 2008