Now I know who I am and who I write for | ANDREA MARCOLONGO

Now I know who I am and who I write for | ANDREA MARCOLONGO

I landed in Italy two days ago and I still miss the most amazing experience I had in my life in Peru thanks to Hay Festival. My jet-lag: it’s not about time, but all about life.

My private story started so much earlier, in Hay-on-Wye in 2013 where I joined Hay Festival as a reader.

It had always been my dream being a writer invited to a Hay Festival, even around the corner. It had always been my dream visiting South America too. I would never believe that one day it would be possible thanks to my book, La Lengua De Los Dioses: it was such a surprise since they invited me in Peru when I was in Segovia – yes, I am a Hay addicted!

I could write maybe a book about my experience in Arequipa: I won’t ever forget when I cried looking at the first sunset in the “white city”, the passionated smile of Cristina Fuentes and all the team, my legs trembling entering the National Theatre for my “charla” with Carlo Rivelli, signing copies for hours.

And how stubborn I am! When I accepted to travel by bus up (really up, 4000m, never been so high!) and down across the Andes from Arequipa to Cusco when my flight was cancelled. I experienced not only the true Andina life with my crazy team of writer, especially with my fiend Simon Sebag Montefiore, but the true spirit of Hay Festival.

Bringing culture, love, imagination and literature not only in the main capital of Europe, where it’s easy to enjoy a conference every night, but in cities where it is more usual to meet a lama than a writer. I am so proud to have been one of them.

I noticed that the questions are the same in Peru like in Paris, especially among the students (I have so appreciated Hay Joven): how can we be happy? What’s the meaning of freedom?. Of course I don’t have a perfect and definitive answer, but accepting to be who you are whenever you are, even on the top of Machu Picchu, is a good start.

I couldn’t be more grateful to the people I met in Peru for their curiosity.

If Hay Festival was born to build bridges of culture, then Hay Festival Arequipa and Cusco achieved the dream. Now I know better who I am and who I write for. And I’m looking forward to joining Hay Festival Cartagena in January!

Andrea Marcolongo appeared at Hay Festival Arequipa 2017.