Iain Finlayson and John Hopkins were amongst a stellar cast of writers who gathered on the rock at this year’s Gibraltar International Literary Festival (14-16 November).
Immortalised by Molly Bloom in her soliloquy in James Joyce’s Ulysses: ‘Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls’, Gibraltar was an apt setting for such a gathering of creative minds, and for discussion about our growing list of books on North Africa.
Tangier: City of the Dream – republished in paperback this month – was the subject of Iain Finlayson’s event. Capturing the romance, seediness and madness of Tangier, from the 17th century to the present day, Finlayson discussed why so many writers – from Paul Bowles to Truman Capote – have sought sanctuary and inspiration from the city. It is a talk Iain will reprising at next year’s Oxford Literary Festival, so try and catch it.
In one of two events, John Hopkins detailed – through his diaries – how he found his vocation as a writer amid all the excitement of living in Tangier among the literary crowds of the 1960s and 1970s. The cast of his diaries, collected in The Tangier Diaries and published spring 2015, feature a huge range of writers, artists and bohemian characters including William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Malcolm Forbes and Tennessee Williams.
Released this summer, The White Nile Diaries was the subject of John Hopkin’s second event, where he recounted his early years of adventure with friend Joe McPhillips, when in 1961 they hatched a plan to cross North Africa on a motorcycle. In honour of the route they planned, it was christened The White Nile.
In what was an astonishing burst of literary energy, we can only hope there will be a GibLibFest 2015.
For more about this year’s festival, read Iain Finlayson’s dispatch for Bookbrunch.