With more than thirty authors appearing over three days, the English PEN Literary Cafe at London Book Fair this week was a genuine literary festival at the heart of one of the world’s biggest publishing trade fairs. One of our highlights was the appearance of Umberto Eco. Jonathan Heawood interviewed Eco in front of a packed crowd at the Literary Café, where he described himself as a ‘young novelist’, having only published his first novel, The Name of the Rose, in 1980 when he was 48. Eco has published five novels since then, and told the audience he hopes to publish a further five.
Other authors appearing at the Literary Café included the best selling thriller writer, James Patterson, who gave a unique insight into the ‘studio’ of collaborators with whom he produces as many as ten books every year; the novelist and critic Amit Chaudhuri, who deplored the way in which Indian literature is patronisingly celebrated in the west for its ‘baroque’ qualities; and the Mexican investigative reporter Lydia Cacho, who moved the audience with her determination to expose corruption despite being tortured by the police. We also saw Andrew O’Hagan, Azar Nafisi, William Boyd, Sarah Waters, William Dalrymple, Hanan Al-Shaykh, Meg Rosoff and Prue Leith, alongside Indian writers such as Girish Karnad, UR Ananthamurthy, K Satchidanandan, Tarun Tejpal, Anita Nair, Javed Akhtar and Ramachandra Guha, all in London courtesy of the British Council. We were delighted to be working alongside Foyle’s, who created a small but beautiful bookshop within the Café, where world-famous authors rubbed shoulders with publishers, agents, readers and journalists.
Our programme at the English PEN Literary Cafe was made possible by the support of London Book Fair, the Booksellers’ Association, International PEN and HW Fisher & Co, who offered free authors’ tax consultations to a number of grateful English PEN members.
You can view photos from this event on Flickr
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/londonbookfair2009/