Breaking all records, the Jewish Book Week programme has already been out for a few days now. I would love to hear what you think and if you like it. I do hope you do! As usual, we’ve tried to be as eclectic as possible, to offer sessions that will appeal to everyone whether looking for meaty subjects or entertainment.
I’m particularly looking forward to our gala opening night with Zygmunt Bauman, Linda Grant and Simon Schama, chaired by Emily Maitlis. An hour and a half will be a very short time to look back on the last 60 years and discuss all the changes in British society, their impact on the community, the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, and this being Book Week, the huge changes to publishing, bookselling and reading. A sociologist who has lived through most of the 20th century, a novelist with a keen eye for the smaller and larger things in our lives and a historian with an insatiable intellectual appetite will certainly offer us very different perspectives and I can’t wait. Linda’s book We had It So Good covers most of that period and undoubtedly shows how wrong Zoe Williams is when she says we should stop reading fiction and concentrate on non fiction to understand the world around us.
I’m also looking forward to our opening night because for the first time in my years at JBW we will be having a proper opening gala with live music as the audience walks in and drinks after the event. To make it more festive and to mark our anniversary, we are inviting all to come dressed 50’s-style. I confess this is probably an excuse on my part to try and find one of these gorgeously feminine and flattering dresses. With a revival of 50s fashion, I may not even have to go to a vintage shop to find one. Gloves or a scarf for women and a hat for men might be enough for those who don’t want to make too much of an effort.
And yes, we are charging more for that event -£24.50- but I hope you will all see it as giving a birthday present to JBW (plus everybody will receive a free book on the way out). 60 years is no small feat for a festival in London. It doesn’t seem like much when there are now so many festivals around the UK but it wasn’t always the case and for quite a long time it was only Cheltenham and JBW. We have recently added the history of the festival on the website if you want to revisit those early years.
Also, now that the JC has been forced by economic circumstances to put an end to its long sponsorship of JBW, we do need your support even more if we want the festival to retain its high quality and international dimension. I know times are hard for many although looking for a restaurant in Soho on Saturday night, it was obvious not everybody is feeling the crunch…
And since we are talking about money, do note that we are offering good discounts on multi-event bookings (excluding the opening night) but you will have to buy all your tickets at one go. Kings Place is a beautiful venue but slightly smaller in capacity than the Royal National Hotel so don’t wait too long -events will sell out faster. Although, of course, we will still offer free videos and podcasts of most sessions afterwards on our website, it’s so much more enjoyable to be part of the action!