SMART AND WOKE – TRACY CHEVALIER

SMART AND WOKE – TRACY CHEVALIER

 

Hay feels a bit like summer camp. It’s warm, there’s tons of cool stuff to do, it’s all crammed onto one site and is slightly chaotic yet somehow comes together at the last minute. It works because of the people: the organisers, the performers and the audience members are all pulling in the same direction.

I arrive thinking only of my events and what I’m going to say, and a mere 24 hours later I’m shouting out answers to the big questions without being scared to think fast. What does hope look like? (People reading books about people completely unlike them.)What book would you recommend all young people read? (Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now.) What motto have you learned the most from? (Less Is More.) What idea should we be thinking more about? (Universal Basic Income.)

The event I do on my latest, New Boy, is unusual for me in that a large number of young people are in the audience. The novel is a retelling of Othello, set on a school playground, and these readers are psyched that it speaks to their experience. They bring an energy to the event that makes us oldsters all sit up. In the signing queue several have already gobbled down the book and confirm that the playground is as brutal as any adult arena. I am honoured to sign books for them.

I come to Hay dumb and numb. I leave smart and woke. That is the sign of a good festival.