Ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest landing in the UK this May, Hay Festival is launching a special project to explore and celebrate the most dazzling European literature, inviting audiences to champion old favourites and discover new recommendations with the Eurovision Book Contest.

Building on the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest and emphasising the role of literature in forging understanding and empathy across borders, the project invites readers to submit their favourite fiction from any of the 37 countries competing in this year’s contest at https://www.hayfestival.com/eurovision-book-contest/

All genres and languages are welcome, but suggestions are limited to anything published in the years since the song contest began in 1956.

Everyone who nominates a book will be entered into a prize draw to win a bundle of some of the selected titles, plus a free subscription to the Festival’s Hay Player archive of digital content.

A final selection of one book from each country will be made by an expert panel on the eve of Hay Festival in Wales this spring (25 May-4 June) to create an ambitious reading list of 37 titles to inspire, examine and entertain. 

A special Hay Festival event on Friday 2 June at 8.30pm will invite audiences to discuss the selection with an expert panel while digital content shared throughout the Festival will showcase the selection, amplified by Festival partners globally. 

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “Sharing stories across borders has never felt more important.

"Alongside our ongoing partnership with Ukraine’s largest book Festival, Lviv BookForum, this collaboration with the Eurovision Song Contest aims to celebrate the role of great literature in forging understanding and empathy globally.

"We are so looking forward to reading the titles that our international audience recommends and to showcasing them at our Festival in Wales this spring.”

Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest at the European Broadcasting Union: “The Eurovision Song Contest has always had storytelling and showcasing the best talent from across Europe and beyond at its core.

"We’re excited to partner with the Hay Festival which shares our own goal of creating connections through culture.

"As we prepare to be United By Music in Liverpool in May we look forward to seeing Europe coming together to celebrate diversity through its rich literary heritage as well.”

Hay Festival 2023 takes place 25 May-4 June in the world’s first booktown, Hay-on-Wye in Wales.

Featuring more than 600 writers, global policy makers, pioneers and innovators in conversations, performances and debates, events will take place at the free-to-enter Festival village on Dairy Meadows, presenting a range of pop-ups to explore, including the Festival Bookshop, Wild Garden, Make and Take Tent, a host of exhibitors and market stalls, cafés and restaurants. 

A selection of early-bird events for Hay Festival 2023 are on sale now, including appearances from global pop superstar Dua Lipa, Booker Prize winners Margaret Atwood, Eleanor Catton and Douglas Stuart, journalists Jeremy Bowen, Marina Hyde and Gary Younge, and a host of family favourites from Julia Donaldson and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock to Children’s Laureate Wales 2021-23 Connor Allen. 

The full Hay Festival programme will be out next week on Tuesday 14 March. 

Partnerships with Adult Learning Wales, The British Library’s Living Knowledge Network, The Empathy Lab, Head4Arts and The Family Place will make this one of the most accessible Festival editions yet, with targeted projects to attract harder-to-reach communities, while a plethora of new sustainability measures will help to tackle the environmental impacts of running a festival. Hay Festival 2023 is supported by lead sponsors Visit Wales and Baillie Gifford.