I stayed up until 2 o’clock on Sunday morning reading The Blue Handbag(Snowbooks, August 2009), Fiona Robyn’s second novel. Fiona is an accomplished writer with a deep understanding of human nature. Her evocative descriptions of the natural world and English flora are among the best I’ve read – and she says I can adopt Pickles (Leonard’s dog).
Fiona has started a blog, 100 Readers, which will feature interviews with 100 readers of The Blue Handbag. If you check in at 100 Readers, you’ll be able to follow her novel as it makes its way in the world. I’m privileged to be the first reader Fiona interviews.
The second Palestine Festival of Literature is taking place from
23 to 28 May 2009.
Because of the difficulties Palestinians face under military occupation in travelling around their own country, the Festival group of 17 international writers will travel to its audiences in the West Bank. It will tour to Ramallah, to Jenin, to al-Khalil/Hebron and to Bethlehem. To mark Jerusalem’s status as Cultural Capital of the Arab World for 2009, the festival will begin and end in Jerusalem.
Michael Palin will be taking part in the festival this year together with: Suad Amiry, Victoria Brittain, Carmen Callil, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Suheir Hammad, Nathalie Handal, Jeremy Harding, Rachel Holmes, Robin Yassin-Kassab, Brigid Keenan, Jamal Mahjoub, Henning Mankell (accompanied by his wife, Eva Bergman), Deborah Moggach, Claire Messud, Alexandra Pringle, Pru Rowlandson, Raja Shehadeh, Ahdaf Soueif and M G Vassanji.
For the full programme of events please visit the website.
“Both reading and writing are, then, acts of supreme faith. They are both, in essence, a call to grace, a belief in the miraculous – that we might come to see through stories what we had not previously seen, that we might come to understand what had, before that moment, remained uncertain, undefined. The mask of fiction, of writing and reading stories, does not, in the end, disguise our faces but instead reveals who we really are. In the end, I think, stories acknowledge life’s difficulty and sadness but insist that we go on anyway, that we always hold to our faith, to our belief in grace.”