Feminism, cyber warfare and politics feature at sell-out Cliveden Literary Festival

Feminism, cyber warfare and politics feature at sell-out Cliveden Literary Festival

The Cliveden Literary Festival returned for a third time last weekend with Ian McEwan, Howard Jacobson and Elif Shafak (pictured) among the authors taking part in a busy event that saw speakers discuss topics from feminism to Russian spies, cyberwarfare and conspiracy theories to secrets of the universe. 

In a panel on the art of the novel chaired by Kate Mosse and featuring Booker/Man Booker winners Ben Okri, Howard Jacobson and Ian McEwan alongside Prix Goncourt 2016 winner Leila Slimani, Jacobson said that in our tumultuous times, "novels have never been so important". In a separate session, when asked by Simon Sebag Montefiore about new puritanism and identity politics, Bret Easton Ellis said: "It denies adulthood…it’s the idea that we can’t be offended."

Leila Slimani, Ben Okri, Howard Jacobson, Ian McEwan and Kate Mosse, credit: Cliveden Literary Festival

Luciana Berger, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Kathy Lette and Elif Shafak came together for a fiery discussion on feminist politics on Sunday. Ayaan Hirsi Ali said that she is "absolutely against the new feminism that makes enemies of men". She also argued for a distinction between the challenges being faced by women in different countries, "what really annoys me is when feminists conflate two worlds…America is not Afghanistan…if we don’t see the distinction we are going to fail".

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter discussed the future of modern warfare with General David Petraeus on Sunday while Tory MP Rory Stewart discussed centrist parties in the UK. Meanwhile broadcaster Maitlis warned that the BBC is in danger of looking "massively out of touch with the real world," as a result of its initial critical verdict of BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty’s comments about Donald Trump.

Simon Sebag Montefiore and Bret Easton Ellis, credit: Cliveden Literary Festival

The sell-out event at Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire saw more than 1,000 guests enjoy a packed programme featuring 21 talks and 45 speakers. 

Founder and chairman of the festival Natalie Livingstone said: "The third Cliveden Literary Festival featured stars from the spheres of astrophysics, politics, fiction, history, espionage, warfare, Hollywood, psychology and news generating multiple headlines and provoking vigorous debate, refreshing honesty and laughter.  We thank our guests, speakers, sponsors and partners for making this our best festival yet."