No need to look for needles in the Hay stack, the joys and discoveries from this year’s festival are plain to see.
Discovery #1: Silence
The scientist and climate activist, Gabrielle Walker, made a sign for silence with her finger. We were at Santa Clara Hotel room waiting for her talk with Erling Kagge. I did not know anything about Kagge, but when I read in the programme that he is an adventurer, a traveller and that he wrote a book about how to find silence in our lives, I was intrigued.
He is a quiet, kind and simple man from Norway. The cover of his book will tell you he is a writer, explorer, lawyer, art collector and editor. He was also the first man to complete the three poles challenge (North, South and Mount Everest) on foot in 1996.
His book is entitled Silence: In the Age of Noise. It is a complete breath of fresh air and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a break in this chaotic world.
“You cannot get anywhere that is completely silent, because when you are there, you will have taken your noise with you,” Kagge says.
What is silence? Where to find it? Why is it more important today than anything else? Kagge tries to answers these three questions in a beautiful book that you can read in one sitting. It is an inspired and open invitation to live, to find your own silence, to resist this noisy world and change your way of thinking.
Discovery #2: Inspiration and roots
Yaa Gyasi was born in Mampong, Ghana in 1989. She moved to the United States with her parents and her two brothers when she was two years old. Her first novel, Homegoing was published in 2016 and was a complete sensation.
At 26, her debut novel was met with great acclaim, winning the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, among others.
But more than the awards, her book is a tribute to the kind of prose that inspires and invites us to imagine another world – a world we cannot see, maybe because we are too far away or just because we simply ignore it.
You will almost hold your breath as you read the first pages of this strong and magical book. Gyasi decided to go back to Ghana to find her roots and create a rich universe that encompasses family, violence, love, lack of love, sexuality, femininity and more. A book full of sensitivity, this will make you jump out of your chair and see the world from another perspective.