Hay Festival and Eurovision Partner For Book Contest
By Megan Whitlock
Eurovision fans across the country were thrilled when it was announced that the UK would be hosting the beloved song contest this year on behalf of Ukraine, after an amazing performance from Sam Ryder in 2022. However, the festivities have now extended into the book world too, a major literary celebration, the Hay Festival, launching the ‘European Book Contest’ ahead of the big event in Liverpool this May.
According to the Eurovision website, the book contest is a “special project,” designed to “explore and celebrate European literature” by creating a diverse reading list featuring books from participating countries. They invite fans to visit the Hay Festival website and submit their favourite fiction, with all genres and languages considered, from any of the thirty-seven countries competing in this year’s Eurovision. It is also stipulated that the fiction must have been published since 1956, the year of the first Eurovision (hosted in the Swiss resort of Lugano).
The Hay Festival, which also takes place in May, will task a panel of expert judges to make a final selection of one book submission from each country, thus creating, according to Eurovision, “an ambitious reading list of thirty-seven titles to inspire, examine and entertain.” However, just like the song contest, there must be a champion, which will be decided through discussion and debate with both the audience and experts, at a special Hay Festival event taking place on Friday 2 June; it is here the overall winner of the selection will be decided.
If this sounds up your street, there are additional incentives for participating: the website states that everyone who nominates a book will be entered into a prize draw. Goodies up for grabs include a bundle of some of the final selected titles and a free subscription to the Hay Player digital archive of content from the Hay Festival.
In a comment on the official Hay Festival website, Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch shared the following: “Sharing stories across borders has never felt more important. Alongside our ongoing partnership with Ukraine’s largest book Festival, Lviv BookForum, this collaboration with the Eurovision Song Contest aims to celebrate the role of great literature in forging understanding and empathy globally. We are so looking forward to reading the titles that our international audience recommends and to showcasing them at our Festival in Wales this spring.”
You can get involved and nominate your favourite piece of fiction on the Hay Festival’s website here.