There are two events which I am going to try my hardest to get to, and I think they would be worth travelling up to Coventry for.
Gao Xingjian: Winner of Nobel Prize for Literature 2000
Wednesday 14 May 8:00pm. Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
"A playwright, novelist, painter, translator, stage director and critic, Gao Xingjian (b.1940) defies simplistic definitions of the 'Chinese writer-intellectual' in contemporary times. Gao's profound reflections on life and the human soul transcend linguistic, political or cultural boundaries. This is a significant event showcasing Chinese art, literature, theatre and philosophy in a global perspective." Entry: £5 (£3.50). Warwick Arts Centre Box Office: 02476 524 524.
Goa Xingjian is the author of Soul Mountain which I read in autumn 2006. Alas, this was the book I was reading in the hospital when I sat up with my nan as she died, so I haven't been able to pick it up since, and I doubt I ever will. Still worth going to see him I think. What a coup to get a Chinese Nobel winner to Coventry.
Benjamin Zephaniah: In Conversation with Professor David Dabydeen
Saturday 17 May 7:45pm The Belgrade Theatre
The acclaimed dub poet, author of We Are Britain! and Too Black, Too Strong, launches Forbidden Fruit: an Anthology of Love Among the Races, newly published by the Coventry-based Heaventree Press. Focusing on erotic relationships between white British colonisers and the 'others' of the empire, the collection challenges stereotypes and racial prejudices, featuring poetry and prose by William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, Aphra Behn, John Gabriel Stedman, Olaudah Equiano, William Blake, Lord Byron, Rudyard Kipling and many others.
David Dabydeen will discuss the book and other topical issues with Benjamin Zephaniah, at an event that looks set to be a highlight of the 2008 Coventry International Festival of Literature. Buy your tickets before they sell out!
Entry: £5 (£3.50) from www.belgrade.co.uk or 02476 553 055
John tells me that this will be Zephaniah's only public performance in the UK this year, so it really is worth making an effort for.