Hay Festival 2023: five Nobel Prize winners as special guests

The Hay Festival comes of age in its next edition and, to celebrate it, brings a new program that will echo the profound transformations that Colombia and the world have experienced during these 18 years. Thus, the Hay Festival, which will take place for more than a week, between January 21 and 30, and which will dress the streets of Jericó, Medellín and Cartagena of culture, ideas and thought, will feature on this occasion more than 180 guests from various countries, including writers, scientists, artists, activists, journalists, economists and intellectuals from various disciplines, who will meet to share with the participating public their opinions on these times of change.

During these 18 years, thousands of participants have passed through Cartagena de Indias, Medellín, Jericó and other Hay locations in Colombia, weaving thousands of stories, narratives, reflections and illusions. This year the celebration will be in style. Among the surprises that the Hay Festival brings for this anniversary is the participation of five Nobel Prize winners.

Constanza Escobar, director of Development of the Festival, told EL NUEVO SIGLO that this meeting “has been growing significantly and throughout all these years it has generated responsibilities, projects such as Hay Joven, which is dedicated to young people and has meaning for us, too, how to reach new audiences, to the communities. And this year we have the launch of two projects that seek to get closer to youth, taking into account that it is a festival of ideas, rather than literature. And this year we created the scholarships for excellence for Afro-descendants living in Cartagena, which is the possibility of immersion in cultural management, as well as a cultural journalism laboratory that seeks for young people to contribute new narratives to the festival”.

“Every year we are growing in our programming, there are more and more guests, a more diverse audience, we are consolidating more and more projects according to the needs or the context in which we operate, whether it is Cartagena, Medellín or Jericó,” he highlighted.

international guests

Among the international guests, the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah, will highlight the relationship between his work and the history of pre-colonial Africa in a conversation with Juan Gabriel Vásquez. Topics related to current conversations on social issues such as race, class, feminism or gender will also be discussed, with the British Bernardine Evaristo, first black woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize, thanks to her novel “Girl, Woman, Others”; British narrator Rachel Cusk will reflect on her work, which oscillates between fiction and essays, including the “Backlighted” trilogy, which has been read and commented on in a multitude of countries. Jean Baptiste del Amo, one of the most renowned French writers, will talk about his latest novel, “The Son of Man”, in which he investigates the transmission of violence and trauma between generations.

The British novelist, playwright and poet Deborah Levy will also talk about her autobiographical narrative. And along the same lines, the award-winning Italian writer Giovanna Giordano will present her novel “A Magical Flight”, inspired by the true story of her grandfather. A regular participant in the Festival, Cuban Leonardo Padura, will present “Decent People”, the tenth novel by his well-known character, detective Mario Conde.

the nationals

The national quota will count with the presence of both long-standing authors such as Laura Restrepo, Ricardo Silva, Carolina Sanín, Juan Esteban Constaín, Andrés Felipe Solano, Paula Marcela Moreno or Margarita García Robayo, as well as new writers such as Daniela Sánchez Russo and Teresita Goyeneche , to name a few.

In the field of physics, the Frenchman Serge Haroche, Nobel Prize 2012, will talk about how the role of light in understanding the universe has changed and continues to change.


As in each edition, the Festival addresses conversations through which the issues that most afflict us and challenge us as a global society are explored, through important thinkers.

María Ressa, the journalist who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her denunciation of the corruption and brutality of the Duterte regime in her native Philippines, will be presenting her latest work “How to Fight a Dictator.” Oded Galor, professor at the American Brown University and creator of the Unified Growth Theory, offers, in “The journey of humanity”, “The big bang of civilizations: the mystery of growth and inequality”, an innovative perspective to reconsider the understanding of our history, facing the future with a more hopeful look that must include education, tolerance and gender equality.

The current events of the recent war in Ukraine, the crisis in the European Union, the rise of far-right nationalist parties; the climate emergency in the countries of Latin America; or inequality, among other topics, will be covered by intellectuals of the stature of the Bulgarian political scientist Iván Krastev or the Nobel Prize in Economics Joseph Stiglitz. There will be a discussion about the war in Ukraine, within the Hay Festival Lviv BookForum series, which will be taking place at different Hay festivals around the world; with the participation of Oleksandra Matviichuk, laureate of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize; the artist and writer Victoria Amelina and the writer, novelist and essayist Andrei Kurkov, who will narrate in first person the terrible impact of the conflict.


Journalists with extensive experience from around the world will accompany this edition of the Festival, to share details about their investigations. Thus, for example, the Spanish Esther Paniagua, specialized in science and technology issues, will talk about what would happen if we were left without internet for a day.

Music will have a wide participation on this occasion. Paisa Juan Esteban Aristizábal, “Juanes”, will be in Cartagena to talk about his memoir. There will also be the singer, musician, composer and visual artist Andrea Echeverri, who will present his interdisciplinary show, half talk, half concert, “Ruiseñora”. The Festival will also have an important representation of music from the Pacific coast, led by La Pacifican Power.

Guests of the stature of the philosopher Pablo D’Ors will pass through the stage of the Hay Festival Jericó with his reflections on silence, the writers Laura Restrepo and Alonso Sánchez Baute, the educator Elisa Guerra and the environmentalists Santiago Beruete and Yayo Herrera, among others. The Hay Festival Medellín will count with the presence of the Cuban Leonardo Padura, the Spanish Esther Paniagua and the British Dan Saladino, among others.

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Hay Festival 2023: five Nobel Prize winners as special guests