Hay 2017 to host stars from Stephen Fry to Bernie Sanders
US president Bill Clinton once dubbed it “the Woodstock of the mind”. Now marking its 30th year, Hay festival is set to tackle Brexit, climate change and Donald Trump with a varied and high-profile political lineup. Stars include US senator Bernie Sanders, former Greek finance minister and the former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón.
Sanders, the outspoken critic of Donald Trump and longest serving independent in US congressional history, will speak at the festival – held in and around the small town of Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border – about what will happen next in the US.
Festival director Peter Florence said that he hoped Sanders would “galvanise young people like he did in America” in his campaign to be the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. He added: “The way he’s working to interrogate every stupid bill in the Senate is heroic and essential. He’s a model opposition leader.”
Other political figures making an appearance at Hay include Varoufakis – appearing for the second year in a row – who will make the plea for reform in the European Union. Calderón, who positioned Mexico as a leader in the fight against climate change during his time as president, will take part in a debate about climate. Former home secretary Alan Johnson and Labour MP Jess Philips, , will also appear.
On the literary side of the festival, the 2016 Man Booker prize winner Paul Beatty is set to appear, alongside , Jonathan Safran Foer, Colm Toíbín, Pulitzer-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, Ian Rankin, Paula Hawkins, David Mitchell, Helen Fielding and Jeanette Winterson. Baileys prize winners Lisa McInerney and Eimear McBride will also be there, as will Howard Jacobson, speaking about his novella Pussy, written in around six weeks following Trump’s election with the aim of offering readers the “consolation of savage satire”.
TV personality Graham Norton, whose debut novel Holding was published in 2016 to widely positive reviews, will be speaking, as will Charlotte Rampling, whose 2015 memoir Qui Je Suis was translated from French and released in English earlier this month.
Coinciding with the festival’s 30th anniversary, this year is the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s theses in 1517. The 95 challenges to church practices are believed to have kick-started the protestant reformation, after they were sent to the – and reputedly pinned to church doors in the town of Wittenberg – on 31 October 1517. Hay is set to mark the coincidence with a lineup of events that ask writers and thinkers to reimagine institutions and orthodoxies for the modern era. Speakers include Stephen Fry on the digital sphere; former deputy governor of the Bank of England, Nemat Shafik, on expertise; Winterson on marriage; and Suzanne O’Sullivan on the NHS.
Other notable public figures attending include artist Tracey Emin, Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, philosopher Peter Singer, comedians Eddie Izzard and Sandy Toksvig, Pussy Riot co-founder Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Queen guitarist Brian May. Award-winning director Ken Loach will deliver the annual Raymond Williams lecture, while Welsh actor Michael Sheen will give the Aneurin Bevan lecture, always delivered by a prominent member of the Labour movement. Sheen recently revealed that he hoped
The will run 25 May to 4 June. Tickets go on general sale 6 April.
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