Booklaunch: Howard Jacobson, J
Born in Manchester, Howard Jacobson is one of Britain’s most acclaimed and prolific novelists. He won the 2010 Man Booker prize for his novel, The Finkler Question as well as the Everyman Wodehouse Award for comic writing for The Mighty Waltzer. A gifted satirist, he’s written about everything from family, friendships and relationships to the death of publishing. His latest novel J is a dystopian thriller in the tradition of Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World. Set in a future where the past is a dangerous country, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying. Two people fall in love, not knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Are they acting of their own accord or have they been pushed into each other’s arms? And what is the momentous catastrophe – the event now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened – that dominates life in this world? Visit the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival website for booking details.
In conversation: Ben Watt with Rachel Cooke
A modern renaissance man, Ben Watt is a musician, songwriter, DJ, author and one half of bestselling pop duo Everything But The Girl. His first memoir, Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness, was a New York Times Book of the Year and described by William Boyd as ‘a fine testimonial to his fortitude and his power as a writer.’ His second memoir, Romany and Tom, is a funny, engaging and bittersweet tale of love and loss, ambition and stardom, life in clubs and life in care homes. Beautifully written, it chronicles the colourful lives of his parents – jazz musician Tommy Watt and RADA-trained actress and showbiz writer Romany Bain – their love affair, marriage and decline into old age. We’re delighted that Ben will be joining us for a rare ‘in conversation’ with Observer writer and fellow author Rachel Cooke. Visit the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival website for booking details.
In conversation: Barry Miles on William S. Burroughs
It’s been 50 years since Norman Mailer described William S. Burroughs as ‘the only American novelist living who may conceivably be possessed by genius.’ Radical, relentlessly political and fiercely experimental, with the publication of The Naked Lunch in 1959 and its censorship for obscenity, Burroughs became one of the godfathers of 60s counterculture. And his wild life was every bit as shocking as his work. In the seminal Beat writer’s centenary year, Burroughs’ friend and collaborator Barry Miles has published an authoritative new biography that shows us the mercurial man behind the cult figure and reveals his struggles with relationships, addiction and the conventions of a society in which he was a natural outsider. The Times said of the book: ‘The life of this disturbing and disturbed man has never been so perfectly told.’ Miles will be in conversation with Doug Field.
Reading: Tom Pickard & Alan Gillis
Two writers come together for an evening of hard-hitting poetry imbued with the rhythms of everyday Britain. A poet whose work shares much with the American Beats, Tom Pickard was described by Allen Ginsberg as ‘one of the most live and true poetic voices in Great Britain.’ He founded the Morden Tower readings series in Newcastle in 1963 and his Ballad of Jamie Allan (2007) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Carcanet has just published his Collected Poems, hoyoot. Funny, irreverent and sometimes shocking, the poetry of Alan Gillis employs the speech of post-millennial age with great precision. A Belfast native whose work was shortlisted for the TS Eliot and the Irish Times/Poetry Now Prizes, his fourth book Scapegoat will be published by The Gallery Press in October. Visit the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival website for booking details.
2014 Burgess Lecture with Blake Morrison: Confessions of the Hack Trade
For the 2014 Burgess Lecture, we are delighted to welcome acclaimed writer Blake Morrison to Manchester to talk about Anthony Burgess’s journalism. Anthony Burgess wrote many hundreds of articles, reviews and opinion pieces for newspapers and magazines in a journalistic career spanning more than fifty years. His writing was characteristically provocative and informative, entertaining and extravagant, always readable, never dull, and extraordinary in its range, erudition and energy. Blake Morrison has written for many newspapers himself, and was literary editor of The Observer and the Independent on Sunday before becoming a full-time author in 1995. His many books include South Of The River, The Last Weekend and the memoirs And When Did You Last See Your Father? and Things My Mother Never Told Me. Join Blake Morrison for a discussion of Burgess’s work, and the ways in which newspaper culture has changed. Visit the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival website for booking details.
Booklaunch: A.L. Kennedy, All the Rage
A.L. Kennedy has twice been selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists and won the Costa Book of the Year for her novel Day. Over five previous collections, she’s also shown herself to be a master of the short story. Her latest collection, All The Rage, presents a dozen stories and a dozen different ways of looking at love, or lack of love. Here in the everyday world we all inhabit she reveals the battlefield of the heart, where some characters will prevail and others will be lost. With compassion and dark humour, All The Rage takes us from a shocking admission on a railway platform to an uncomfortable lunch between two apparent strangers that culminates in a passionate kiss. ‘You do not know this man. He is practically a stranger. Only he’s not.’ Visit the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival for booking details.
In conversation: Adam Begley on John Updike
In 60 books and 27 novels, John Updike earned a reputation as one of modern America’s greatest men of letters. In this authoritative new biography, the first following the writer’s death in 2009, Adam Begley shows us the inner life of a man who saw himself as a literary spy in small-town New England, seeking to capture ‘middleness with all its grits, bumps and anonymities.’ Begley explores how the events in Updike’s life shaped him and reveals a deeply complex nature full of contradictions – a gentle soul with a vicious wit; a gregarious charmer who was ruthlessly competitive. Formerly Books Editor for the New York Observer and a Guggenheim Fellow, Begley’s writing regularly appears in major newspapers and journals on both sides of the Atlantic. Critic Janet Malcolm said of the book ‘this is literary biography at its highest level of truth.’ Begley will be in conversation with Ian McGuire.
Walking tour: Anthony Burgess’s Manchester with New Manchester Walks
He was polymath, a polyglot and a pain in the neck. Immensely talented and insufferably egotistical, he chain smoked for England and wrote more words than Dickens, Wells and Trollope combined.
Manchester was his city, which he loved so much he moved to Monaco. As the great man may himself have said: “the future’s clockwork; the future’s orange.”
The event begins at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation venue and cafe at 11am with a tour of the archive. At around 11.45am, Ed Glinert will then lead the walking tour around the great man’s Manchester haunts. Visit the New Manchester Walks website for booking information.
Preview: Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things
We are thrilled that bestselling writer Michel Faber will be giving a special preview of his first new novel in 14 years. Gorgeously written, The Book of Strange New Things is an original and quietly powerful tale of love, faith, adventure, change and dystopia. Focused around a Christian missionary, it’s a momentous tale of humanity and the search for meaning in an unfathomable universe. New York Times called Faber’s writing ‘wildly entertaining’ and the Guardian stated ‘This is a man who could give Conrad a run at writing the perfect sentence.’ An award-winning writer, he has written eight books including novellas and short story collections. His novel, The Crimson Petal and the White, was adapted into a BBC4 drama and his electrifying debut, Under the Skin, was recently made into a film directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson. Visit the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival website for booking details.
In conversation: Cynan Jones & Evie Wyld with Matt Haig
Join us to hear two of the winners of the 2014 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. One of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, Evie Wyld published her debut, After The Fire, A Still Small Voice, to widespread critical acclaim. Her latest novel, All The Birds, Singing, is a dark, suspenseful tale that explores landscapes, nature, outsiders and tentative redemption with brooding beauty. Cynan Jones’s novels include The Long Dry, Everything I Found on the Beach and Bird, Blood, Snow. Set on a rural farm, his latest novel The Dig is a haunting and masterful tale of isolation, violence, masculinity and loss infused with gritty realism. Jon McGregor called it ‘moving, evocative and utterly compelling’ whilst Sarah Waters praised ‘his passion for the landscape – its colours, its creatures, its textures, its scent – is absolutely magnetic.’ The event will be chaired by author and JFU judge Matt Haig. Visit the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival website for booking details.