Janine di Giovanni, Middle East editor of Newsweek and author of The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches From Syria and Madness Visible was awarded the Hay Festival 2016 Medal for Prose in front of a sell-out crowd on day four of the landmark literary festival on Sunday 29 May, 2016.
Created by Christopher Hamilton, a silversmith local to the festival site in Hay-on-Wye, the medals have been awarded annually for exceptional work since Britain’s Olympic year (2012), drawing inspiration from the original Olympic medal given for poetry.
The sterling silver medals are struck by hand, using the traditional 'drop hammer' method, engraved with an image of Athena’s owl and the recipient’s name. All the letter engraving (of winners' names and categories) is done entirely by hand by Birmingham engraver Peta Greenwood.
Janine di Giovanni began reporting on conflict and humanitarian disasters 25 years ago as a freelancer working in Gaza and the West Bank. She reports by engaging local citizens and often by working independently, without support from a major news organization. Based in Paris, she focuses on women’s rights, child soldiers, HIV/AIDS, war crimes, honor crimes, illegal detention, refugees, and crimes against humanity.
The Hay Medal comes on the back of her International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) award last week for Courage in Journalism.
With over 600 events running until Sunday 5 June, the festival brings Nobel Prize winners, novelists, scientists, global leaders, historians, musicians and comedians together in discussions and celebrations, covering everything from literary landmarks - Shakespeare, Cervantes, Brontë and Dahl – to the EU referendum and US election. Hay Medals for Poetry, Song and Drama, will be announced in events throughout the week.
Following two days of programming for schools and a block buster Saturday, festival action continued Sunday under glorious sunshine, with appearances from Russell T Davies and Maxine Peake, Jaqueline Wilson, Marcus du Sautoy, Mervyn King, Michael V Hayden, Salman Rushdie, Kamila Shamsie, Valeria Luiselli, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Irvine Welsh, plus entertainment from Suzanne Vega, Sara Pascoe, and a star-packed Letters Live line-up led by Benedict Cumberbatch, Louise Brealey, Olivia Colman and Tom Hollander.
The programme for the remaining 8 days is available in full at www.hayfestival.com/wales, with speakers over the festival including Tom Jones, Caitlin Moran, Michael Palin, Simon Schama, Germaine Greer, Salman Rushdie, Gordon Brown, Yanis Varoufakis, Monty Don, Tom Holland, Jeanette Winterson and Tom Jones, with comedy from Sarah Millican and Isy Suttie; music from Bragg, Laura Marling, K T Tunstall, Turin Brakes, and Baaba Maal; and an all star Letters Live event led by Louise Brealey, Olivia Colman and Tom Hollander.
Meanwhile, beyond the main stages is a whole host of activities for all ages to discover and enjoy, from the best local food and drink, creative workshops and artists’ exhibitions, to a blockbuster programme of free BBC events and the opportunity to explore the stunning countryside surrounding the festival site.
The full programme of more than 600 events is available to view at www.hayfestival.com/wales.