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Khalil Patwa reading Robinson Crusoe in the Bookkeeper bookshop for ATEAB 2019

Khalil Patwa reads H.G.Wells’ words

This year’s A Town Explores A Book festival officially starts on Thursday 2 April with a live online broadcast of Khalil Patwa reading from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Last year Khalil read the whole of Robinson Crusoe in instalments to an enthralled audience in the Bookkeeper bookshop. HOT’s Erica Smith asked him about H.G. Wells, and how he is going to deliver this classic text to us.

What’s your approach to being a ‘reader alouder’?
I like to keep the reading aloud experience a novel one, if you pardon the pun, in that while I’ve been researching the book and the author, the live reading will be my first. In this way I hope to share not just the words from the book but also my experience of them.

What was your experience of reading Crusoe aloud?
I found the reading of Crusoe to be emblematic of such a desert island experience. It was desolate and monotonous in parts, in Defoe’s rendering of lists of provisions and activities. Rather than finding this boring, this much criticised style, wrapped up in Crusoe’s staunch, English, ‘carry on’ attitude, made these sections of the book rather soporific and reassuring.

Or perhaps that was the calm and attentive vibes coming from the listeners present!

These ‘deserted’ passages of the book made ideal contrast for his swashbuckling adventures and were a welcome respite from Defoe’s unsettling descriptions of the psycho-spiritual torments of being alone.

What from H.G.Wells’ perspective can be paralleled to modern life?
Wells was a prolific writer across different topics and his body of science fiction work has not only contributed massively to the genre but also to how we think about science and the future as a culture. A curious insight he must have had indeed.

As a utopianist and supporter of the League of Nations, Wells’ call for a world order to protect the common man from the evils of industrialised war is mirrored today in 2020 by calls from international leaders for a global government to save us from the perils of industrialised viruses. So perhaps we’ll find much within The Time Machine that may help us navigate into the future!

What are you most looking forward to about reading The Time Machine?
Wells is famed for his imagination and his fantastic depictions are definitely something to look forward to. However, less well-known and just as exciting for the literary minds is his use of English and turns of phrase common to the south east. Raised in Kent and educated in South Kensington, Wells is considered unsurpassed in his expressions of a vernacular particular to the lower middle classes of the region. A great book for the agile minds and hearts of St Leonards-on-Sea to explore.


You can watch Khalil read The Time Machine live by visiting the festival Facebook page at 4pm on Thursday 2 April. The book will be read daily at 4pm in six instalments which will be accessible afterwards from the Facbook page and the festival website. It is hoped that the readings will be broadcast simultaneously on  Isolation Station Hastings.

Posted 20:04 Wednesday, Apr 1, 2020 In: Festivals

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