First let me apologize for the long delay in continuing my posts on the festival. After weekend rugby break I have found it hard to put my head back into a more intense place. No surprise there really. I have also struggled with writing up the censorship debate. There are many reasons but the key one is that in a way there is no point as those truly interested can watch it all on video here. So rather than giving you my rather detailed notes please watch the the video. It is well worth it but not if you wanted more info on the whole banned or not banned book fiasco. The highlights me were:
- Andrei Kurkov's almost cheeky hit at the thing that no one was speaking about - banning a book these days was a surefire way to receive publicity
-Margaret Atwood's comment that lie was not freedom of expression
- Nelofer Pariza's commented that writers write to engage in dialogue
- the general gist of the western writers was that in the west the biggest censorship was that of self censorship and this was mainly due to political correctness
-Rajaa Al Sanea spoke about portraying humans as humans not being forced to a postive or negative stereotype. She didn't feel she had to portray women one way or other but to portry life as it is - not sugar coated; then it can cross boundaries and this is positive
-Margaret Atwood asked what is our relationship with our audience; you write by yourself then it is published; you are not there then but separated by time and space; sometimes that feel gives you a sense of safety; it was key to remember that in today's world your audience can be anyone; it is like a message in a bottle throw into the sea - sometimes it is a life line and some will be affronted. You can't control how people will react so just make it the best book possible. Your responsibility is to the work - make it the best it can be
-Rachel Billington commented the west was seriously threatened by political correctness, the pressure to be saleable, commercial pressures; writers have to be strong about what they need to write
Finally it was Rachel Billington who gave me greatest gift as a person who at times struggles with my faith and its part in my writing. She was responding to a comment on the Catholic Church and censorship which she felt was justified. She said if you are a novelist you have to feel completely free and able to create characters; that doesn't mean you don't start somewhere with your beliefs and values...in fact that is what gives the tension most writing is looking for - you gather the complications of your own beliefs with the way you are allowing your characters to behave and do dreadful things which provides great tension.
Paul Blezard blogs about the festival here .
Tomorrow - Margaret Atwood