Isn't it funny how life throws things up at just the right time.
I was grumbling only just the other week that I feel a little bit cut off in Lyon when it comes to things literary. It's a great place to be inspired, but I do miss having a direct connection with other English-speaking writing types, festivals and the like.
Then, blow me down, a journalist friend in Paris sent me the wonderful news about an international festival taking place in Lyon from May 30 to June 3: The International Forum on the Novel. Yes! I am beaming! Finally, there is a splash in my puddle!
It's not just any old festival. There are some big names attending. Just to list a few: A.S. Byatt, John Banville, Ian McEwan, Russel Banks, André Brink, Rick Moody, Jonathan Coe, Tobias Hill, Nik Cohn, James Flint, Robert Dessaix, Ying Chen, James Meek, Dmitri Bykov, Jay McInerney, David Albahari, William Vollmann, Wei Wei and Donald Antrim. There are many others, but the list would get too long!
Over five days there will be round-tables, debates and readings involving all of the authors. The theme is "reality and the novel", with discussions on: "the family novel"; "the limits of the novel"; "I as primary matter"; "inventing the real"; "literature and trauma"; "pained soul, pained body"; "social sciences and earth sciences"; "document, inquiry, fiction"; and "confronting the reality of our characters".
The organisers are calling for volunteers to help look after the writers and carry out other chores during the festival, but I'm worried that would mean I wouldn't be free to attend the various events. Also, it would be just my luck to get placed with an absolute bore or someone who has terrible manners - this has happened before at a writing festival, but I won't mention any famous names!