Manchester Literature Festival is back this year with an events programme boasting local, national and international writers from all walks of literature. Spanning various cultural hubs across Manchester, the festival’s events will explore diverse ways of experiencing literature through readings, panel discussions, walking tours and play-oriented events.
Among the main events are a tonne of big names including Vivienne Westwood discussing her life, activism and forthcoming book Get a Life: The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood, University of Manchester Chancellor Lemn Sissay performing a selection of his poetry and festival regular Margaret Atwood in conversation about her new novel Hag-Seed. Poetry lovers will find plenty to get their teeth into, with a notable event featuring Melissa Lee Houghton, Mark Pajak and Genevieve Walsh alongside host Henry Normal for an instalment of Manchester’s long-standing and Saboteur award-winning poetry night Bad Language. Critically acclaimed for its innovative Commissioning Programme, the festival furthermore fosters new work from both established writers and promising newcomers; an unmissable opportunity for anyone who wants to stay at the forefront of contemporary literature. Particularly exciting work which will premiere at the festival this year includes prolific writer Ben Okri discussing the art of storytelling in the inaugural MLF and Royal Literary Fund lecture, as well as novelist, poet and playwright Deborah Levy performing a piece inspired by Manchester Art Gallery’s Fashion and Freedom exhibition.
What also promises to be exciting are the events at the festival featuring UK-based publishing houses committed to shaking up the profit-driven, pale-male-and-stale status quo of the publishing industry. Manchester-based not-for-profit publishing house Comma Press have two events on the line-up. On the 15th October, Bangladeshi author Syed Manzoorul Islam will discuss his contribution to The Book of Dhaka, a collection of short stories mapping the Bangladeshi capital, forming part Comma Press’s ‘City in Short Fiction’ series. Then, on the 20th October, Marina Lewycka (author of a short history of tractors in Ukrainian) and Dragan Todorovic (author of Diary of Interrupted Days) join Comma Press founder Ra Page in discussion of the collection Refugee Tales. Created through bringing authors together with asylum seekers and refugees, the book compiles the true stories of vulnerable asylum seekers lost in a hell where detention, bureaucracy and inhumane indifference know no limits. London-based not-for-profit press Tilted Axis host another event: having recently published South Korean author Hwang Jung-eun’s novel One Hundred Shadows in English, they will be conversation with the writer about her work and its place within Korean literature nationally and internationally.