Durham Book Festival: Highlights

By and Lotte Hall

Books Editors

As we approach autumn, it seems only fitting that we get cosy with a new book. This October, Durham welcomes its annual Book Festival and if the programme is anything to go by, we are in for some extremely exciting events this year. Why not attend one of the following among fellow book lovers and find yourself a new autumn read?

An Evening with Roger McGough – 7th October, Gala Theatre

One of Britain’s best-loved poets, host of BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please and the author of over seventy books, McGough brings his new collection, joinedupwriting, to Durham. Spanning friendship, family, war and politics, this promises to be an enjoyable evening in the company of a true literary giant.

An enjoyable evening in the company of a true literary giant

David Nicholls: Sweet Sorrow – 8th October, Gala Theatre

A highly anticipated interview with the prolific author of One Day, which was previously turned into a film. David Nicholls is back with a touching story of childhood love, Sweet Sorrow. The interview with Claire Malcolm will be followed by a screening of the 2015 film Far From the Madding Crowd, for which Nicholls wrote the screenplay.

Mark Haddon: The Porpoise – 9th October, Gala Theatre

Having made his name with bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, master story-teller Mark Haddon introduces his new novel, The Porpoise. Based on Shakespeare’s Pericles, it tells of a newborn baby, the sole survivor of a plane crash, who is raised in isolation by an adoptive father. A strange suitor arrives, but knows too much and is forced to run for his life.

The Gordon Burn Prize – 10th October, Durham Town Hall

The Books section has been reviewing the entire shortlist for this much anticipated event, and we cannot wait to see who will take the prize! Shortlisted novels include Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, which rewrites the Iliad with a focus on its female victims, and This Brutal House by Niven Govinden, which takes the riotous New York nightclub scene of the queer community and uses them to present a story of civil resistance. The other nominees are Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, Lanny by Max Porter, Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and For The Good Times by David Keenan. The winner will receive £5000 and a month’s writing retreat at Gordon Burn’s cottage.

Much anticipated event

Kerry Hudson and Selina Todd: Women and Class – 12th October, Durham Town Hall

Professor Selina Todd of Oxford University collaborates with the acclaimed novelist Kerry Hudson to explore the working class from her personal work Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns. Todd’s research focuses on working class history, having grown up in Newcastle Upon Tyne herself. In particular, her interests in inequality and women’s lives in modern Britain are reflected in her book Tastes of Honey, where she explores the 1958 play A Taste of Honey. You can see a screening of this play on the same day at 7pm in Durham Town Hall with an introduction from Todd. This promises to be an insightful exploration into women, class and local history.

An insightful exploration into women, class and local history

A Room of One’s Own – 12th October, Gala Theatre

In her seminal feminist essay, Virginia Woolf said that in order to write, a woman needed a basic income and a room to herself. To commemorate A Room of One’s Own on its ninetieth birthday, DBF have commissioned three writers to discuss what they need to thrive as literary women. Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and advocate for freedom of speech. Kerry Hudson is an acclaimed novelist, whose latest book, Low-born, is a personal exploration of poverty in today’s Britain. Suzanne Moore is a journalist and regular Guardian columnist, who won the prestigious Orwell Prize for Journalism. This should be a fascinating evening for anyone interested in the legacy of female writers in the last century.

All on the doorstep of any Durham student

This is just a glimpse of dozens of events taking place from the 5th to the 13th of October, all on the doorstep of any Durham student. It is well worth taking a look to see if any of the events pique your interests.

Find a full programme and more information at durhambookfestival.com

Image by Durham Book Festival

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