War and Fiction – Michael Ignatieff with Victoria Glendinning
PEN event attendees enjoyed hearing a discussion concerning war, war in fiction and politics led by authors Michael Ignatieff and Victoria
Glendinning at the beautiful Canada House in Trafalgar Square this week. The event began with a leisurely glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres before the audience settled down in the theatre. Ignatieff, an internationally renowned commentator, novelist, memoirist and biographer, began by describing PEN as the “gold standard of human rights organisations”, before opening the occasion by reading from his latest novel, Charlie Johnson in the Flames.
Photo by Catherine Speller
Biographer, ciritic and novelist Victoria Glendinning then proceeded to probe Ignatieff on the motivations behind his writing. Ignatieff explained that the novel is a reflection on his personal experiences within war-torn countries such as Kosovo. He explained how the horror of war zones had prompted him to write fiction in order to purge the dehumanization he had witnessed from his mind and spirit. With this, the author probed the dilemmas of reporting the truth in turbulent times and the psychological toll that this takes on the individuals concerned. The disillusion war creates in hindering the expression of truth through writing, Ignatieff explained, intensifies the damaging effects of living through war. Writing is thus, in this case, an essential tool for preserving the mind as well as for reporting reality.
Ignatieff closed the discussion by reading another passage from his novel, and the floor was then open to questions and comments from the audience. We hope the knowledge and insight of Michael Ignatieff left the audience stimulated, and we thank Victoria Glendinning for her expert chairing of the discussion.
Many thanks to Patrick Hargadon at Chatto & Windus, Ruth Petrie and Diana Jervis-Reade at Canada House for all their help and hospitality.
Report by Jessica Irene
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/michaelignatieffwithvictoriagl/