LITERARY BUZZ: A Weekend of Storytelling & Politics in Paris

A literary legacy lives on at the Shakespeare & Company Literary Festival on the banks of the River Seine.

Anyone passing through Paris this June shouldn’t miss the annual Shakespeare & Company Literary Festival. Not only is it free, it’s a chance to hang out with literary royalty! The Shakespeare & Company Bookshop is an institution in itself, having survived almost 60 years on the banks of the River Seine under the patronage of George Whitman (now 96 and only recently retired)–his daughter Sylvia Whitman has now taken over and founded FestivalandCo in 2003. Henry Miller once described the place as “A wonderland of books.” Over the years, many of the great writers of the twentieth century–among them Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Anais Nin, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Durrell, James Baldwin, and Miller–have written, given readings and even lived within its walls.

The festival runs Friday 18th – Sunday 20th June from 11am to 7pm in the Square Réné Viviani, adjacent to the bookshop and directly opposite Notre Dame. Visitors can enjoy lively readings and discussions (in English and French) with superb and exciting authors, such as Martin Amis, Zena Edwards, Hanif Kureishi, Philip Pullman, Jeanette Winterson and many others on this year’s theme of “Storytelling and Politics”. Fatima Bhutto will talk of “Politics and violence in Pakistan”, Will Self on “Sex, Death and Laughter in the Dark” and London’s cutting edge 5×15 will feature five outstanding individuals to enlighten, entertain and inspire as they tell the story behind their most innovative ideas, grandest achievements and deepest obsessions – all in just 15 minutes!

Between events, storytellers will randomly roam the square recounting stories and giving participants a chance to engage with each other in a fun and intimate atmosphere over coffee, wine, sandwiches and books. This year, a new literary magazine and literary prize are being launched at the festival. There will also be some special events in the evening so be sure to check out the festival website: www.festivalandco.com for the latest information or sign up for the monthly newsletter by sending an email to: news@shakespeareandcompany.com to receive updates about the bookshop and this year’s festival.

Finally, don’t forget to review our Paris Guide for more information on where to stay, what to see, eat, and do in the magical city of light.

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