ROBERT CRAIS: Festivaletteratura - Mantova, Italy

Festivaletteratura is one of the foremost literary festivals in Italy, celebrating fiction and nonfiction from around the world. In 2007, the American crime fiction guests were RC, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and the great Elmore Leonard.

Mantova is a beautiful town near Milan, with a population of about 50,000 people. The entire town of Mantova gives itself over to the week-long celebration of literature, during which the population grows to almost 150,000.

Programming and bookselling takes place in tents that fill the town squares. RC was part of a standing-room-only event on crime fiction. Earlier that day, a press conference was held, where RC, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, and George Pelecanos were peppered with questions. l to r: RC, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos

The picture above shows the journalists filling the tent.

And here’s the main event:
The crime fiction panel was one of the hot-ticket events for the festival, and sold out weeks in advance. Well over a thousand people filled a beautiful, outdoor venue on Friday night. (l to r: Michael Connelly, translator, Dennis Lehane, Paolo Zaccagnini (the moderator), RC, translator, George Pelecanos.)
After the event, the huge crowd qued up and the writers signed books.

Here’s RC, GP, and DL facing the crowd (MC was
next to DL.) !

This picture shows what it looked like from the writers’ side of the table
The festival wasn’t only interviews and appearances. RC has been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s brilliant comics work for years, and finally got to meet him! And here’s RC being photographed by the Italian Vanity Fair. RC has been photographed thousands of times, but never like this! Vanity Fair used this enormous Polaroid. It weighs almost two hundred pounds. Only five such cameras exist in the world, and the film stock is limited. When the current supply of film stock is gone, no more portraits will be taken with these cameras.

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