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Mixing Wellies with Bikinis

That’s about my favorite line from Robert McCrum‘s summary of the 2nd annual Cartagena Literary Festival, the result of Colombia’s quest for a fresh international narrative coinciding with the Hay Festival‘s ambitions to take off from Wales and bring contemporary literature to the wider world.According to Hay festival director Peter Florence, the choice of Cartagena is a no-brainer: the secret of a successful literary festival ‘is all to do with location’. Eventually, Florence says he wants to launch similar venues in the US.

Speaking of Hay UK, he admits to McCrum ‘we have been Anglocentric for too long. The fact is: we’re 20 years old; we’ve got a big audience; we have to go global.’ Last week’s sold-out events at Cartagena vindicated Florence’s smooth PR. There were appearances from Wole Soyinka, Junot Diaz, Manuel Rivas, DBC Pierre and rising stars Jorge Volpi and Tishani Doshi. Oh and don’t forget Christopher Hitchens; he was the opening speaker.

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