The 12 best books from Hay Festival 2021

Written by a former Hay Festival International Fellow, Many Rivers To Cross traces a series of migrations, from Wales to Calais and from Ethiopia to Lampedusa. Aman is a failed asylum seeker. David is a journalist. Jasmine is a sex worker. Mike is a lorry driver. Claudie is a churchgoer. Selam is a single mother. Solomon is a refugee. Gareth is dead. But such labels disguise the ways their lives are bound up in each other. When Aman goes missing, presumed drowned in the River Usk, David embarks on an unexpected journey, ending face down in the dust of Addis Ababa. When Mike crosses the Channel, unaware of four men stowed in the back of his lorry, he has no idea Solomon will turn up at his local pub. And when Selam feels the first flutter of life inside her, she could not begin to imagine her daughter flying high – a poet-princess of their strange new homeland.

Luster by Raven Leilani

Image may contain Mouth Teeth and Lip

Razor-sharp, provocatively page-turning, and surprisingly tender, this brilliant debut novel won Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Edie’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office. She’s sleeping with all the wrong men and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. Then she meets Eric; a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling headfirst into Eric’s home and family.

The Hay Festival talks are available to watch online for free until 6 June.[1]

Now read

The 121 best books to read right now[2]

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Best audiobooks to listen to in 2021[4]


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  2. ^ The 121 best books to read right now (
  3. ^ Youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman is the voice of a new American era (
  4. ^ Best audiobooks to listen to in 2021 (