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Hay Festival launches Eurovision Book Contest, championing unity in literature

09 March 2023 at 16:10 CET
Hay Festival on a summer's day in Wales Adam Tatton-Reid
Ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest landing in the United Kingdom this May, Hay Festival in Wales is launching a special project to explore and celebrate European literature: the Eurovision Book Contest.

Building on the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest and emphasising the role of literature in forging understanding and empathy across borders, the project invites readers to submit their favourite fiction from any of the 37 countries competing in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest

Submissions can be made at the Hay Festival website.

All genres and languages are welcome, but in a further nod to the rich history of the Eurovision Song Contest, all suggestions are limited to anything published in the years since the Contest began in 1956. 

Everyone who nominates a book will be entered into a prize draw to win a bundle of some of the selected titles, plus a free subscription to the Festival’s Hay Player archive of digital content.

Getting into the literature at Hay Festival Michael Alberry

A final selection of one book from each country will be made by an expert panel on the eve of Hay Festival in Wales (which takes place from 25 May to 4 June), to create an ambitious reading list of 37 titles to inspire, examine and entertain. 

A special Hay Festival event on Friday 2 June at 20:30 CET will invite audiences to discuss the selection with an expert panel, while digital content shared throughout the Festival will showcase the selection, amplified by Festival partners globally. During this event, the list will be debated and an overall winner will be voted on.

Hay Festival at night Adam Tatton-Reid

Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest comments:

“The Eurovision Song Contest has always had storytelling and showcasing the best talent from across Europe and beyond at its core. We’re excited to partner with the Hay Festival which shares our own goal of creating connections through culture. As we prepare to be United By Music in Liverpool in May, we look forward to seeing Europe coming together to celebrate diversity through its rich literary heritage as well.”

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch enthuses:

“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.”

Relaxing with a good book at Hay Festival Sam Hardwick

Hay Festival

In 1987, Hay Festival was dreamt up in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. 36 years later, the Festival has travelled to editions in 30 locations; from the historic town of Cartagena in Colombia to the heart of cities in Peru, Mexico, Spain and the USA. The organisation now reaches a global audience of millions each year and continues to grow and innovate, building partnerships and initiatives alongside some of the leading bodies in arts and the media. Over the past year, the Festival earned 1.5 million web visits and passed one million event views online, while its social media following climbed to 330,000, making it one of the most impactful literary events in the world.

The picturesque Hay Festival site Chris Athanasiou

Listen to all 37 songs of the Eurovision Song Contest via your favourite streaming services, and watch the official music videos on our YouTube channel:

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