Leila Aboulela and Seán Hewitt
TIME & LOCATION
ABOUT THE EVENT
A long-time favourite with Word and May Festival audiences, Leila Aboulela has written short fiction, plays and five novels, including The Kindness of Enemies, Minaret and, most recently, Bird Summons. Born in Cairo, she grew up in Khartoum, moving to Aberdeen in her twenties. Her debut novel, The Translator, was one of New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of the Year, while Lyrics Alley was Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. Leila was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her latest story collection, Elsewhere, Home won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award. Leila’s work has been translated into fifteen languages and long-listed three times for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her plays The Insider, The Mystic Life and others were broadcast on BBC Radio and her fiction has been included in publications such as Freeman’s, Granta and Harper’s Magazine.
Image courtesy of Judy Laing.
Seán Hewitt is a poet whose ‘inspirational, uplifting and assured debut collection, reflecting on nature and mortality’, Tongues of Fire (2020), was the Guardian’s poetry book of the month in May. Written in part out of the confusion and grief of his father’s dying, and culminating in a queer reconfiguring of the tale of Sweeney, the mad king of Irish legend, the collection testifies to Hewitt’s twin ‘poetic fascinations’ with ‘the natural world seen slant’ and, inseparably, the world of the body. The poet writes: ‘The great Muriel Rukeyser asked, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” And I think that could be said again. What would happen if a queer person told the truth about their life? Maybe the world might be queerer, might be (in the words of Hopkins) more “counter, original, spare, strange”, than we previously thought.’
Image courtesy of Brid O'Donovan.
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