Alison McQueen


An Uncommonly Delightful Week

It has been an uncommonly delightful week, not just in terms of the glorious weather, but rather from the wonderful people I have met at The Guardian Open Weekendand at the Oxford Literature Festival.

At the Open Weekend, the discussion topic was Family Secrets and How To Tell Them (my eventual answer to which was “carefully”). Chaired by the wonderful Kira Cochrane, features writer at The Guardian, the tone of the event became deeply personal, both for us on the panel and for some of the audience. So many families have felt the fall-out from secrets, often closely guarded, and I was particularly touched by the man who had discovered after his father’s death that the girl he thought to be his elder sister was actually his mother. Stirring stuff.

After the event at the Oxford Lit Fest, the subject being Empire in 21st Century Fiction, I was approached by an elderly lady who told me that she was half Japanese, born to a concubine, and that she had witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima. She had written her story, (soon to be published in Japan), and had been excommunicated by her few remaining family for doing so. My heart went out to her as she walked slowly away, and I shall think of her often.