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The Hay Festival is underway without Henning Mankell

June 1, 2010 |  7:19 am


The Hay Festival of literature and the arts, held annually in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, kicked off May 27 and continues through Sunday. The popular festival, which regularly features audiences of 1,500, is sponsored by the Guardian.

Authors who've already appeared include Roddy Doyle, Chang-Rae Lee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Bill Bryson, model-actress Jerry Hall, David Mitchell, Alain de Botton and Nadine Gordimer.

One who did not make it to the Hay Festival is bestselling Swedish crime novelist Henning Mankell. Mankell, 62, was one of nine Swedes aboard the aid flotilla bound for Gaza that was raided by Israeli forces. Rumors that Mankell had been shot in the raid, in which at least nine protesters died, proved untrue; he is being held in Israeli custody.

"It is with actions that we prove we are ready to support something we believe is important," Mankell told Swedish public radio before departing on the aid mission. The Israeli ambassador to Britain, who had been scheduled to appear at the Hay Festival on Tuesday, withdrew from the festival after public outcry about the raid.

Political conflict aside, much of the week's programming is geared for children. Upcoming adult authors who will appear in the festival's last days include Booker Prize winner Ben Okri ("The Famished Road"), food advocate Michael Pollan and Alexander McCall Smith, author of "The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency" series. 

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The Hay Festival in 2005. Credit: Paul Thompson / Corbis