Hay-On-Belfast

Tony Curtis and David Simon come to Ulster Hall for first Hay festival season in Belfast

Hollywood legend, lover, comedian and autobiographer, Tony Curtis and Baltimore creator of The Corner, The Wire and Generation Kill, David Simon are the prestigious headliners of the first Guardian Hay Festival Season in Belfast’s Ulster Hall.

Founded in 1987, The Guardian Hay Festival, is an annual event in Hay-on-Wye, a tiny market town in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales with a population of 1300 people and 43 bookshops. This ten day event brings together 500 writers and artists and an audience of 120,000 people, making it one of the most important literary festivals in the world.

Hay has created international festivals in other parts of the world since 2006: Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias, Colombia; Hay Festival Segovia and Hay Festival Alhambra in Spain. New projects for 2009 include Beirut 39 in Lebanon and Storymoja in Kenya...and our own Hay Belfast.

Hay has a reputation for attracting the biggest and best names in the book world - and they don't come much bigger than Simon and Curtis.

Simon is author of Homicide and The Corner: A Year in the Life of An Inner-City Neighbourhood, though is probably best known for his work on the TV series The Wire.

Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and Homicide won the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime and the Anthony Award for Best True Crime on publication in America in 1992, and since then has sold more than half a million copies in the States.

The book was been hailed as a classic by no less than Martin Amis: 'A masterpiece...[Simon] has exceptional literary gifts of eye and ear. Few novelists have written so well about the corrosiveness of the modern American city.'

Like Simon, Curtis has worked in TV. But that's where the similarities end - Curtis is a bona fide Hollywood legend. During his 60-year career he has appeared in over 100 films, including such classics as Spartacus, The Defiant Ones and Some Like It Hot.

Curtis is coming to Belfast to promote the paperback edition of his autobiography American Prince, the story of his hard-knock childhood, his wild days as a Hollywood playboy, his destructive drug addiction and his life now as an artist in his 80s.

Sparing no name, no detail and no ego, Curtis talks intimately about the people he has known during his long, illustrious career, his co-stars, the studio owners, his wives, his lovers and his friends.

Hay in Belfast promises to be a feast for book lovers. Peter Florence, director of the Hay festival, says, 'We are living in interesting times echoing all the '9s' of the previous 100 years.

'Each decade has climaxed in vast upheaval and seismic change powered by big thinking, human ingenuity and the audacity of hope - from the Treaty of Versailles and the Wall Street Crash to the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. And all these revolutions resonate throughout the world today in its current crises. What we can do in Hay is respond by investing heavily in the un-devaluable currencies of ideas.

'The programme for May balances rocket science and cabaret, macro-economics and jazz, God and Darwin, and, at the heart of everything, imaginative writers interpreting our lives in poetry and fiction.’

Tony Curtis appears at the Ulster Hall on Wednesday May 27 at 7.30pm, tickets priced £10. David Simon appears Sunday May 31 at 6pm, tickets £10.

Tickets are available from the Ulster Hall and Waterfront Box Offices, by calling 028 9033 4455 and online at www.ulsterhall.co.uk