May. 24th, 2011

lizabelle: (Book and sea)
I have more to post (David Mitchell! Fatima Bhutto! Michael Cunningham!), but I wanted to post a bit of a round-up while everything's still fresh in my mind. Take all of this with a pinch of salt. :)

Number of events attended: 16 (out of 330)

Number of events I queued for and failed to get into: 2 (The Fascinator - Delia Falconer, Ashley Hay and Gail Jones sharing their fascination with Sydney and Desert Flowers - Indigenous writers talking about and reading from their poetry)

Number of bookloving friends and acquaintances bumped into: 8 (seriously, how does this happen among so many thousands of people?)

Number of David Mitchell events attended: 2

Number of David Mitchell events that the boyfriend attended on my behalf: 1

Most mind-blowing moment: Fatima Bhutto, Ingrid Betancourt and Aminatta Forna talking about power, politics and personal responsibility. Their standing ovation was much-deserved.

Number of books bought: 6* (1 as a gift)

Number of books added to to-read list: 34 (I wish I was joking)

Favourite new discovery: Kei Miller - self-deprecating, quietly intelligent, hilarious and lovely.

Biggest fangirl moment: The Big Reading - Kei Miller reading from his first novel (he's a wonderful reader - if there are any audiobooks of his work, he needs to read them, please); David Mitchell reading from his work-in-progress; Téa Obreht reading from The Tiger's Wife; Kader Abdolah telling a heartfelt story of giving up the language of his birth (at least for writing purposes); and Michael Cunningham reading from his work-in-progress. Five wonderful writers, and I came out completely starry-eyed.

Number of awesome women spotted on various panels: Too many to count, but a few that spring to mind are Fatima Bhutto, Ingrid Betancourt, Aminatta Forna, Amanda McKenzie, Kirsten Tranter, Sophie Cunningham, Sonya Hartnett, Anna Perera, Kelly-lee Hickey, Mardi McConnochie, Mandy Sayer and Elizabeth Stead.

Favourite evening event: Spoken Four - inspiring performers telling it like it is.

Panellist with most enthusiastic, delighted audience: David Mitchell (although Kei Miller comes a close second).

Favourite random panellist: Steven Gale, who offered a lovely foil to Kei Miller in the first session I attended, and whom I lated spotted on several occasions browsing the books and looking like any other festival-goer.

Number of worlds ended: None

Number of glasses of red wine drunk: 4 (pretty restrained, I feel).

Number of hours spent queueing: About four.

Saddest moment: Ingrid Betancourt talking about learning of her father's death while she was in captivity.

Most inspiring moment: Amanda McKenzie explaining clearly and calmly how we can help to save the environment.

Funniest moment: Pretty much anything Shamini Flint said.

Sweetest moment: David Mitchell telling the "small person" in the audience to make as much noise as he liked.

Happiest moment: The general realisation that there are many people out there (in Sydney, even) who think the way I do about many things, and who, when they do not agree, are willing to enter into thoughtful, respectful discussions.

Most memorable moment: Aminatta Forna, Fatima Bhutto and Ingrid Betancourt in one room talking about power, politics and our personal responsibility to stand up to oppression. Unforgettable and important.

* The Last Warner Woman by Kei Miller, The Diamond Anchor by Jennifer Mills, The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, The Old School by PM Newton, Family Album by Penelope Lively and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley.

I'd love to hear from others: what were your memorable festival moments?
lizabelle: (Default)
This event was the highlight of the festival for me: three intelligent, strong, compassionate women all speaking eloquently and movingly on subjects close to their hearts. It's another long post, because almost everything they said felt important to me.

Maxine McKew kicked off proceedings by asking all three panellists to give their reactions to the death of Osama Bin Laden. Ingrid Betancourt said that she did not feel Bin Laden's death should be celebrated, with which the other panellists agreed. Aminatta Forna contrasted this case with that of Charles Taylor, who in 2006 was flown into Sierra Leone to face war crimes charges in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The people came out onto the streets to watch, Forna said, because this was a time when you could literally see that justice was being done. That court was funded by the US, and yet it seems the US did not want to take the justice route with Bin Laden.

Fatima Bhutto agreed with Betancourt and Forna, and observed that she is more concerned about the current violence in Pakistan than with Bin Laden's death. People are shot every day, and the situation is exacerbated by US drone strikes - she alleged that these have killed over two thousand people in Pakistan, largely civilians, since 2006.

The conversation moved onto the personal tragedies that the three women have experienced. In captivity, Betancourt felt that she had a responsibility as well as a right to be free. Even though she knew that any rescue attempt might mean her death, she preferred to die in the struggle for freedom rather than remaining a captive for, say, another twenty years.

She also praised the courage of her rescuers, who pretended they were working with the FARQ in order to gain access to her, and were completely unarmed when they executed their plan. They are the true heroes, she said.

More under here )

Hope, she said, comes from ordinary people. And in these three extraordinary women, ordinary people like me can certainly find plenty of inspiration and hope.


lizabelle: (Default)

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