Today is World Book Day, which I have to admit I find a bit crap. At least in Germany, where there aren't really any free books involved. Surely all those "Yay for books" things are preaching to the converted? Whatever. Books. Yay. Let's spread the tidings of this radical new invention today.
Enough. There are some things to look forward to with a little more content, in all sorts of places. First up, the PEN World Voices festival in NYC. Austrian poetry and prose writer Barbara Frischmuth, German Book Prize winner Ursula Krechel, Swiss geezer Rolf Lappert, and all sorts of other impressive people and things from 29 April to 5 May.
From 10-12 May there's the Solothurner Literaturtage in Switzerland, where you lucky people can see me on a panel, single-handedly and hypocritically championing online reviewers. But also some proper writers, including Jenny Erpenbeck, Navid Kermani, Julya Rabinowich, Andreas Stichmann, Urs Widmer, Patrick Tschan... plus lots of translators translating live. I'm quite pleased I don't actually have to do that part.
Followed by London's European Literature Night on 15 May. Featuring Austrian writer Norbert Gstrein for your tongue-twisting delight, Germany's Birgit Vanderbeke and a host of other golden daffodils. All chaired by Rosie Goldsmith, someone I look up to immensely – and not just for her dress sense.
And if you're grounded in Berlin because it's so darn cool you can't bear to leave (I feel for you), then you can look forward to a thing called 24 Stunden Buch on 31 May and 1 June. I may be missing something but there doesn't seem to be a programme just yet. But they do tell us that (pardon my shouting): "from 12:00 to 12:00 there will be readings and other literary events around the clock, some of them in very unusual places, for children and adults. A bus transfer will link the reading locations during the evening and the night so that visitors can enjoy literature non-stop!" Now aren't you all fired up now?
Update: Argh! I just looked up World Book Night in the UK. It is not for me. Possibly in an attempt to make the list of books they give away more fitting for the event's name, they have added a translated book. Bernhard Schlink's lowest-common-denominator The Reader. Thank goodness I left the country. Yes, I know I'm a snob.