Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Dublin International Literary Festival
I attended the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie event in the Convention Centre last night. It was a great set-up, actual leg room in a theatre, really streamlined queuing. Sorry to geek out about a venue but I really enjoy personal space. A few years ago a gene in me must have switched on that made me more sensitive to crowds, or maybe one of heightened tolerance was turned off. I can't stand poky spaces and there's one cinema in Dublin I go to max twice a year because I think it's a danger to knees.
The author herself was charming, insightful, a true star. I've only read two of her books, one for book club which I loved, so I'm adding the rest of her writings to my never-ending Goodreads list. My Goodreads list is too long! I'm probably never going to get round to your recommendations!
Sinéad Gleeson interviewed Chimamanda and was great at letting her shine. Motherhood was a big discussion point and gender permeated every minute. The crowd was visibly rapt. Sinéad has a book of essays out next year and if you can access her Granta essay you should settle down with it pronto. She's doing her own thing in terms of writing and it's fabulous to witness.
There was some chatter among my friends about the Q&A after, but to be honest I've stopped minding Q&As and their universally dreaded my-question-is-actually-a-comment chatter. My sympathy for the rambling - not the rude, I can't bear bad manners at a Q&A, although saying that I once misbehaved at a BBC event in Dublin but I stand by what I did - anyway, I really feel for people who stand up and try to voice their blended sweaty palms thoughts. I think a lot of people come from a good place and very few people can master their speech for a crowd, especially one so large. I am also conscious that I am someone who through my jobs and past social media savviness has been able to speak and have people listen to me. A lot of people don't get to pen an op-ed every few years, they don't get to write in a print magazine that they then see a girl opposite them on a train read, they don't get the mood spikes from regular retweets and that peculiar peer endorsement. Most people don't feel like they have an outlet, so if speaking aloud in front of others, however haltingly or with all the up voice in the world, makes them feel a little bit more powerful, I can move past any squirming I might feel in that moment. Life's short and yes, there are annoying people out there, but I'm not going to set a bonfire over Q&As. Also, I love when you're at one and someone stands up to correct a speaker to say 'that person you've described as dead is actually alive and my aunt/dad/beloved granduncle'. My face is like a gif when that happens.
I was going to try and ask a question about Chimamanda's thoughts on historical fiction and the appropriation/inclusiveness debate she addressed at the beginning of her talk. What are the boundaries there? Or rather her thoughts at uprooting the long dead and imagining their lives and motives? Hopefully, I attend an event she's speaking at in the future and I can pose it then. There were so many raised hands at this event I decided to skip the exhaustion of trying to attract a decisive volunteer.
In summary, great gal!
P.S. Think this is only Dublin International Literary Festival event I am attending. Bought a bunch of tickets for stuff next weekend but then I booked a trip to Madrid on a whim one morning while sitting in the Ashling hotel, which is probably one of about five nice things that have happened there, so I'll be divvying up those PDF spoils in the coming days.