I’ve been trying to decide what to go to in the Press Writers Festival. At mostly $15 a pop the sessions seem a bit pricey, so I am going to limit myself to three. Another I will definitely go to (and not just because it is free) is Francis Spufford. Anyone who can describe the process of learning to read thus: “Twenty-six years since the furze of black marks between the covers of “The Hobbit” grew lucid and released a dragon.”, The Child that Books Built, p. 4, has to be worth hearing.
I am currently enjoying his Backroom Boys; the secret return of the British boffin.
Another author I hope to hear is Australian Marion Halligan. She is an excellent writer and her two recent forays in the mystery genre, The Apricot Colonel (love the pun) and Murder on the Apricot Coast are a delight.
I am sure that Xinran is an excellent writer and will be well worth hearing, but it does seem that every book festival since Wild Swans was published in 1991 has featured a Chinese writer on the Cultural Revolution and its effects. Professor Paul Clark of Auckland University evidently has similar feelings. Interviewed in the New Zealand Listener recently he describes his own book The Chinese Cultural revolution: a history as “… my anti-Wild Swans book.” (New Zealand Listener 23 August 2008, p.28-29).