Celebrate writing at Manchester Literature Festival


This year’s Manchester Literature Festival promises a mixture of digital and real-world events celebrating writing in all its forms.

With #MLF LIVE from 9th-17th October and #MLF DIGITAL from 1st-14th November, there will be plenty to ignite imaginations, inspiration and an appreciation of how we can make sense of our world through reading, writing and experiencing literature.

Live highlights include:

Jeanette Winterson and Mark O’Connell in Conversation with Kate Feld.

Saturday 9th October 2021, (Central Library)

An Evening with Bernardine Evaristo
Monday 11 October 2021, (HOME Theatre)

An Evening with Colm Tóibín,

Thursday 14 October 2021 (Central Library)

Tenement Kid: Bobby Gillespie in Conversation
Saturday 16 October 2021, 8pm, HOME (Theatre)

Malika Booker, Vahni Capildeo & Jason Allen-Paisant

Sunday 17 October 2021 (Central Library)

Look out for exclusive commissions by exciting contemporary poets responding to our current times.

Celebrated poet and musician Roger Robinson was commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival to write a new series of poems exploring the idea of Black Lives Matter and how it pertains to the Black British experience.

A rising poetry star Caleb Femi was commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival to write new poems exploring the impact of solitude during the pandemic, touching on themes of the inner and physical self, friendship, joy and imagination as a coping tool.

California-born poet and the Director at the Centre for Imagination in the Borderlands at Arizona State University Natalie Diaz was commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival to write a series of poetic sensualities exploring the words ‘origin’, ‘migration’, ‘freedom’ and ‘love.’ The Festival say: “A deeply lyrical poet, she created linguistic maps of these words in English and Mojave, diving deep into their roots and the ways in which they echo in physical connection.

Find out more about these commissions and all the Manchester Literature Festival events: www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh Book Festival. Shows people in a park enjoying the literary festival
This year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 14th-30th August, with more than 300 writers, artists and thinkers taking part from around the world  Events will be hosted both in real life, and online. Topics will focus on a changing world dealing with and reeling from the impacts of Covid-19, climate crisis, poverty, inequality, technology – and how we can move forward.

Online events will be offered on a ‘pay what you can’ basis, with opportunities to connect with authors by asking questions in live Q&As or catch up on events at a time that suits.

The festival’s director Nick Barley says: “We are incredibly excited to produce our first ‘hybrid’ festival with authors and audiences joining us both in person and online.  We welcome a mix of Scottish and international voices to discuss their ideas, hopes and dreams and we aim to explore together how to move ‘Onwards and Upwards’ from this devastating pandemic. In our new home at Edinburgh College of Art we have created three broadcast studios, two of which can accommodate limited audiences. These facilities enable us to offer author conversations to worldwide audiences and to those closer to home who are unable to join us in person, as well as welcoming a limited In-Real-Life audience.”

Look out for events with Nobel Prize winners (including Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University Amartya Sen discussing the meaning of home and Kazuo Ishiguro talking about his new novel Klara and the Sun and what it is to be human) and Booker Prize winners including Salman Rushdie speaking to journalist Allan Little about the role of writing in shaping public debate, and Bernardine Evaristo interviewing three authors whose books published in the 1990s are now republished by Hamish Hamilton as part of a series entitled Black Britain: Writing Back, all selected by Evaristo.

Judith Bryan will discuss Bernard and the Cloth Monkey, while S I Martin presents his multiracial historical novel Incomparable World, and Nicola Williams, a barrister as well as a novelist, discusses her legal thriller Without Prejudice – the story of a young woman of working-class Caribbean background and her struggles to succeed as a lawyer in a predominantly white, male environment.

There are also 60 events in the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme, with readings, draw-alongs, and dancing, plus a new series of pre-recorded, audio-only events and walking tours around Edinburgh for all ages.

Find full details of the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme.

Got an event, challenge, competition, opportunity or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley (@) ICloud (dot) com.





Book review – Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

Blonde Roots coverIn this ambitious reimagining of the history of slavery, Bernardine Evaristo has meticulously turned every detail of the world as we know it inside out.

In transforming white people into wiggers enslaved by the blaks she has done far more than show us the impact slavery had on an entire race of people – she has made us feel what they felt, see their surroundings through their eyes, feel their sense of inferiority foisted upon them by generations of being told that they were weaker, less intelligent, less capable of emotion, simply less than mankind.

Blonde Roots‘ narrator is Doris, a “yellow-headed stalk of a girl” stolen from her life in England at the age of ten while playing hide and seek with her sisters. Through flashbacks interwoven with scenes of her life as sugar baron Bwana’s top slave, Bernardine illustrates a rich, glorious world where the blaks are in charge, where plump flesh is desirable and slimness considered ugly, where topless fashions are the norm, where every mouthful of food is spiced and Brussel sprouts and cabbages are considered exotic. Continue reading