Tour. The routines, the epiphanies, the minutiae, the humiliations and life affirmations, the gas-station sandwiches, the Hiltons, the Travelodges, the audiences – or lack thereof.
In the third instalment of our On Tour series, where writers and artists tell us about their experiences on the road, Cristhiano Aguiar, one of Granta’s Best of Young Brazilian novelists, talks about his recent trip to the UK, his time at Latitude Festival and rabbits.
Rabbits running across a campus and a beer named Hobgoblin: these are two of the topics noted in my small travel notebook, whose most recent pages I just finished re-reading. Both comment on my recent journey through England. The rabbits were running through the University of East Anglia, where I participated in a residency at the invitation of the British Centre for Literary Translation; the Hobgoblin was my main form of hydration during the days in which I lived in a tent at Latitude festival.
I was always curious about English music festivals; however, I never imagined that I would visit one as a writer. In Latitude’s case, the size of the park where everything took place impressed me, as did the diversity of simultaneous events. In the middle of so much noise and euphoria, I couldn’t stop asking myself: what is the place of literature here? This question joined another, which I always ask myself when on tour: is the presence of the writer’s body really necessary? Are we not glamourizing an activity whose pertinence comes from being a form of silent resistance?
While I was thinking about this, our panel had already begun. To my side were other Granta Best of Young Novelists, Javier Montes and Kamila Shamsie. To start, we read extracts of our stories published in Granta’s Best Young Novelists editions. After this, we talked about what was read and shared impressions of our readings. Although we came from different cultural backgrounds, we realized that we could relate to each other’s stories. This is fiction’s power: to bridge the gaps. Thus, my questions – the place of literature at the festival, the glamourization of it – were losing force. The conversation with my colleagues and the public made me remember how much the idea of literature involves and generates dialogue. In this manner, the solitary and arduous act of writing, the ‘most vain struggle’ as the Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade defines it, also refers to encounters, and the sharing of experiences. Texts, cultures, authors and readers: all meet in the literary word. It is a good cause, and part of this struggle is locked together in the body-to-body. In travels.
Image by PGBrown1987