The first indication that this was a literary festival like no other came with the request to provide ‘proof of life’ questions in case of kidnap. I’ve been to some unusual festivals – earlier this year I found myself discussing war-rape, ancient and modern, with the classicist Mary Beard on a barefoot island in the Maldives – and had some unusual festival encounters, such as the woman who asked me to sign a book to her dead husband, adding that he was reading it when he died.
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