At the beginning of 2021 I discovered the amazing world of online events featuring writers. Fueled by the ongoing pandemic, several book discussions moved in the online realm, being accessible for significantly larger audiences.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely prefer attending events in person, there’s a certain energy that cannot be replace by a Zoom meeting. But when I think about the geographical constraints … I am grateful there are also online opportunities. For my comfortable living room in Bucharest, Romania I got to attend book discussions with the authors or presenters being in the Netherlands, the UK, Kenya, and Canada!
Elif Shafak – How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division
The event with Elif Shafak was a general discussion about women’s rights and racism, cultural heritage and globalization. The talk also included a small section on the new book published by the writer – How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division.
This first event opened my appetite for online events with writers! During the event I got the chance to ask directly a question to Elif Shafak – I initially though that my question from the chat would be addressed by the facilitator, so imagine my anxiety when I found out that I have to unmute myself and ask the question! 🙂
The event was organized in January by Boek & Meester, a monthly literature group from Rotterdam.
Kassia St Clair – The Golden Thread
The event focused solely on the latest book published by Kassia St Clair – The Golden Thread, a chronicle of fabrics’ history. She also wrote The Secret Lives of Colour – a chronicle of colours’ history (see my review here).
Kassia’s presentation was like a captivating trailer for the content of the book 🙂 She talked about fabrics used for Egyptian mummies, the first silk producers, and the intriguing history of lace. The Q&A section covered more general questions, from her research methods to personal interests.
The event was organized by The Bookshop East Grinstead, a local bookstore in the UK.
Maaza Mengiste – The Shadow King
The discussion with Maaza Mengiste was centered around The Shadow King – a book I also read and enjoyed so much (see my review here)!
The talk focused on the inspiration sources for the story, how Maaza did the research while writing the book, and how she re-wrote the book after writing a very long first version. The author also read a section of the book – it’s such a nice feeling to hear a writer reading his/her own story!
The event was organized by Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club.
Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake
I was so so excited for the event with Margaret Atwood! The discussion centered around Oryx & Crake, a book she published 20 years ago … but guess what?! The book touches on very contemporary topics. There’s even a pandemic in the story, and some quotes seem taken from today’s newspapers.
The discussion with Margaret Atwood was so rich and witty – from genetic engineering and the healing powers of purring to the purpose of writing dystopian stories and her alias animal. It was a perfect mix of entertainment and instruction. Loved it!!
The event was organized by The Guardian Live.
Yaa Gyasi – Transcendent Kingdom
On 4th of March (next week!) there will be an online event with Yaa Gyasi, centered around her latest book: Transcendent Kingdom. I admire so much Yaa Gyasi – loved her first book, Homegoing (see here my review), her second book is also amazing, and she is a very pleasant person to talk to (what I noticed from her video interviews).
Transcendent Kingdom tells the story of Gifty, a 28-year-old neuroscientist. Gifty has Ghanian heritage, but she was born after her family relocated from Ghana to the USA. It is a touching story that covers difficult topics such as addiction, mental health, and immigration.
The event is organized by Penguin Live on 4th of March, the publishing day of the book. You can still register here.
I definitely plan to attend more events with writers – I’m happy if I manage to attend an event each month 😀
Here are some of the options for the next period, in case you’re interested to join:
- Kazuo Ishiguro & Klara and the Sun – 2nd of March 2021 – link here
- Irvin Yalom & A Matter of Death and Life – 8th of March 2021 – link here
- Maggie O’Farrell & Hamnet – 22nd of April 2021 – link here
Do you enjoy participating in online events with authors? How do you find out about them?
‘Till next time … happy reading!
PS: All events took place in January and February 2021. Exception is the event with Yaa Gyasi – it will take place on 4th of March. For each event I paid a participation fee (approx. 5 euro). I registered for most of these events on Eventbrite.