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Gone 2 Paris–for the Shakespeare and Company Literary Festival

Posted by Erin Brown in Bookselling events literary awards uncategorized world literature on June 16, 2010


This weekend (June 18-20) in Paris, the much-venerated Shakespeare and Company bookstore is holding its fourth literary festival. Inaugurated in 2003, the festival has since settled into a biannual schedule, running in 2006, 2008, and now 2010. Each festival has centered on a different theme, including “Lost, Beat & New: Three Generations of Writers in Paris”; “Travel in Words: Celebrating Travel Literature”; and “Real Lives: Exploring Memoir and Biography.”

This year’s theme is “Storytelling & Politics”—appropriate, given that Shakespeare and Company founder George Whitman (now in his nineties) has always seen his bookstore as a political vehicle, even describing it as “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Check out this video to get a sense of the unique literary atmosphere he created.

The 2010 festival’s diverse, international roster of participating writers and artists will include Martin Amis (England), Fatima Bhutto (Pakistan), Breyten Breytenbach (South Africa), Tjawangwa Dema (Botswana), Mathias Énard (France), Janine di Giovanni (United States), Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe), David Hare (England), Jack Hirschman (United States), Ian Jack (Scotland), Yusef Komunyakaa (United States), Hanif Kureishi (England), Nam Le (Vietnam), Philip Pullman (England), Carole Seymour-Jones (Wales), Raja Shehadeh (Palestine), and Gao Xingjian (China).

According to Publishers Weekly, this year’s festival will also mark the launch of a new literary magazine and literary prize. Beginning in 1967, Whitman published three issues of his Paris Magazine over the course of more than a decade. Keeping his title, the new publication will be edited by Fatema Ahmed, formerly the managing editor of Granta. Shakespeare will also announce its sponsorship of a biannual 10,000-euro prize for a novella of 20,000-30,000 words. It’s exciting to see the continued vitality of this iconic Left Bank establishment.


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