Two exceptional talks from Saturday at the LitFest

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Two of the most anticipated talks of the festival took place earlier today, the first with Bidisha and Selma Dabbagh who discussed their experiences on writing fiction and non-fiction about Palestine. The second with Marina Lewycka who read excerpts from her new novel ‘Various Pets Alive and Dead’ and who answered questions on her writing skills, creative writing courses and her new ‘grisly’ novel.

Both Bidisha and Dabbagh, being exceptional speakers, were articulate about their experiences in Palestine, both describing visits to the West Bank, the Wall and the refugee camps with an intense insight. As each asked the other questions, they conveyed the humanity, personality and atmosphere of the place and its residents which is all but lost on news reports from the conflict.

Lewycka with her friendly and generous personality made the whole hour feel like a private conversation with a friend as she discussed her life and it’s affect on her writing. Questions were asked on her inspiration and research for her novels, particularly of her experiences in London during the 60’s. Lewycka expressed how she enjoyed listening to other people, asking questions and how she felt a particular draw to picking up on peoples mannerisms in their speech. An audience member also asked about pressures from her publishers, where Lewycka gave an insight into her external pressures of developing her ‘brand’ as a novelist as well as respect towards her editor who attacks her manuscripts with a ‘big, red pen!’