12 May 2009

Voices from the “World Voices” Festival

Last week Publishers Weekly ran several reports from the PEN "World Voices" literary festival in New York. I've gleaned bits that struck me, starting with a remark from a a session on “Visual Storytelling”:

The use of comics illustration, [Israeli artist David] Polonsky explained, to depict the narrative was apt because the “ability to show things that don’t have any material existence” corresponds to the volatility of memories.
Or, as I've been calling it, "showing the invisible."

And in another panel, on the future of children's books:
[Francine] Prose also recounted a story of speaking before a group of New York University students who questioned the need for reading when there are so many good interactive video games that let you “become the character.” In response, Prose said she told them, “The whole point of literature is reading about people who are not you, to get into someone else’s head.”
Indeed, while videogames let players experience many unusual situations, no matter where you go--there you are.

Finally, in a discussion of growing up, Shaun Tan recalled one influential book from his childhood:
Shaun Tan, who was raised in an Australian community that he fondly described as “idyllic yet boring,” explained how his mother, who wanted her two sons who receive a better education than she did, read Animal Farm aloud to Shaun and his brother, thinking that it was a children’s book. Tan said that he and his brother loved the story, as “it related to everything that went on at the playground every day”...

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