Gibraltar Writers And More For This Year’s Literary Festival

Gibraltar writers will be joining the line-up for the 7th Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival.

This is a special year for the Gibraltar Heritage Trust’s Journal, which was first published in 1993, and has been published annually since 1996. It sees the publication of the 25th edition.

Tito Benady and Richard Garcia will together present the story of the Journal and will consider some of the highlights of earlier editions. Tito Benady is the longest-serving editor of the Journal, and its most prolific contributor. Richard Garcia is the current editor, and is also a contributor. The talk will be illustrated.

Over the years, the Journal has become an invaluable record of Gibraltar’s history, including our relatively recent history, through the publication of personal reminiscences and family histories, in addition to more traditional articles on military history, social history, language in Gibraltar, and much else. This event will therefore be a celebration of Gibraltar’s past, its people and its culture.

Julian Felice is Gibraltar’s first ever internationally published playwright. Julian is currently Head of Drama at Bayside Comprehensive School and is the director of Bayside & Westside Drama Group.

Julian’s talk will focus on his attempts to overcome the Impostor Syndrome as manifested by his initial insecurities with being labelled a ‘playwright’. Asking himself ‘What kind of playwright am I?’ as part of an intellectual exercise, Julian tracks his trajectory as a writer, trying to ascertain whereabouts he may have gained this particular label. The focus of the talk then turns to Julian trying to identify the stylistic and theatrical characteristics of his plays in a talk that should prove an honest and self-reflective exploration of his work.

Professor Clive Finlayson is the Director of the Gibraltar National Museum and of the Gorham’s Cave Complex World Heritage Site. Clive is also Beacon Professor of the University of Gibraltar. He is an evolutionary ecologist whose great passion is birds. He got involved in Neanderthal research after participating in the early excavations in Gorham’s Cave; he now co-directs the research programme in the caves. Clive is also a nature photographer who started his trade in the old days of black and white film, developing his own photographs, some of which were published in ornithological books as far back as the 1970s.

Clive will be interviewed by Alice Mascarenhas as he talks about this latest book The Smart Neanderthal. Clive draws on his team’s research in Gorham’s and Vanguard caves in Gibraltar, and evidence from other Neanderthal sites, as well as insights from natural history, in particular knowledge from observing birds, to present a very different emerging view of Neanderthals. In a thrilling account of archaeological discovery, detective work, and magical moments watching majestic golden eagles and cunning vultures, Clive paints an image of Neanderthals who captured birds for their decorative feathers and talons, who made engravings and painted on cave walls, and who may have taught modern humans a thing or two. He questions whether modern humans underwent a unique cognitive revolution at all, and mourns the loss of a lineage of humans who were probably just as smart as us.

Sam Benady and Sarah Devincenzi. Sam is no stranger to the Festival having previously presented his seven-volume series of detective novels, The Bresciano Mysteries, written with the late Mary Chiappe.

Sarah Devincenzi was born in the town of Emsworth on the south coast of England in 1968. Art, craft and design have been Sarah’s bywords since before her formal training in the mediaeval guild skill of sign-writing. Sarah arrived in Gibraltar in 1990, during a year of travelling with friends, and she loved it so much she never went home! Working with the accomplished Sam Benady on this pictorial history of Gibraltar has presented a new and very special personal and artistic challenge. For Sarah, this work has been a labour of love and a way of honouring her beloved adopted home. Sarah and Sam will be presenting their current work, A Pictorial History of Gibraltar, an illustrated overview of Gibraltar history, the result of many years of patient and loving research.

Both authors will be interviewed by John Tanzer, a retired UK judge, member of the Friends of Gibraltar, and a frequent visitor to the Rock. They will be interviewed about the book and its content, and will answer any questions that the audience chooses to throw at them.

Other guests joining the Festival from the UK will include, Kavita Puri, an award-winning journalist and radio broadcaster. Her landmark three-part series Partition Voices for BBC Radio 4 won the Royal Historical Society's Radio and Podcast Award and its overall Public History Prize. Her critically-acclaimed Radio 4 series, Three Pounds in My Pocket, charted the migration of South Asians to post-war Britain. Kavita works in BBC Current Affairs as an executive producer, and radio presenter. Prior to this, she worked at Newsnight. She studied Law at Cambridge University. Kavita will be talking about Partition Voices in her presentation.

Jonathan Phillips is Professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of numerous books on the subject, most recently The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin.

In the autumn of 1187 the Sultan Saladin etched his name in history when he regained the holy city of Jerusalem for Islam from the crusaders. His decision to spare the Christian inhabitants – in stark comparison to the massacre perpetrated by the knights of the First Crusade when they seized the city 88 years before – did much to mark him out as a man of honour and mercy.

This talk traces his emergence as the rising star of an ambitious Kurdish clan who ascended to power through military skill and, in his case, considerable charm, piety and good fortune. Saladin and his followers drew together the Muslim Near East to take the jihad to the Christians and capture Jerusalem. He then faced a huge crusading expedition, led by Richard the Lionheart, king of England but in this epic struggle Saladin held on to Jerusalem. We will explore the sultan’s charismatic leadership, but it will also show him as fallible and prone to long periods of ill-health.

Since his death Saladin’s exploits have attracted admiration and attention in the Muslim world and in the West. This talk shows how a man initially branded as ‘the son of Satan’ became so esteemed in Europe and, through extensive new research, will follow how his character and achievements have acted as a role model for generations across the Near East down to the present day. www.gibraltarliteraryfestival.com