Have you ever thought about literature in the same terms as the Eurovision Song Contest?

For instance, how Martin Amis of the United Kingdom may fare against Nikos Kazantzakis of Greece in a literature battle, or if Annie Ernaux of France would earn douze points against Ireland’s John Banville?

Then Hay Festival 2023 has just the contest for you – in collaboration with the Eurovision Song Contest, the United Kingdom’s premier book festival has launched 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,” according to Eurovision.tv, the book contest invites fans to submit recommendations to the Hay Festival using this link, with a panel of experts then selecting a book from each of the 37 countries competing at Eurovision 2023.

The 37 books will form a reading list to “inspire, examine, and entertain” over the course of the Hay Festival, which begins on Thursday, May 25, 2023, and ends on Sunday, June 4, 2023, in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, United Kingdom.

On Friday, June 2, 2023, a special event on these 37 books will be held, where an expert panel and the public in attendance will discuss and debate the entries, with a winner to be decided by participant vote.

Eurovision’s Executive Producer Martin Osterdahl told eurovision.tv, ““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.”

The book festival and Eurovision share common goals, which is why Hay Festival CEO and organizer Julie Finch thinks it’s a perfect partnership.

“Sharing stories across borders has never felt more important.” said Finch. “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.”

Voting for your favorite author and novel began on February 28, 2023, and will close on Monday, May 1, 2023.

The Hay Festival rules do stress that the nominations follow these rules, however:

  • The entry must be long form fiction, ie. a novel.
  • The author must hail from one of the 37 countries participating at Eurovision 2023.
  • The novel must have been written on or after May 24, 1956, the date of the very first Eurovision Song Contest.

In addition, any nominating person will be entered into a draw for a prize package that includes a bundle of ten selected printed works from the contest, as well as a subscription to Hay Festival’s online content.

The full program for the 2023 Hay Festival will be published on March 14, 2023, but they have already announced appearances by pop star Dua Lipa, Booker Prize winning author Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), journalists and commentators Marina Hyde and Gary Younge, and Wales’s Childrens Literature Laureate Connor Allen.

What novel will #YOU nominate to the Eurovision Book Festival? Let us know in the comments below, on our social media, or in our forum.

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