REPORT: Durham Book Festival | NARC. | Reliably informed

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Image: Waal’s Kit by Sarah M Lee

New Writing North presents the Esteemed Durham Book Festival at venues across the city this month, with accessible options via live broadcast available for many events. Local libraries will stock festival titles and the Big Little Read initiative enables the distribution of free books. Opportunities to fully experience a guided walk, talks, performances, readings, films and commissions exclusively prepared for the festival abound.

The Gordon Burn Prize winner announcement, a celebration of narrative fiction and non-fiction that defies convention, is part of several exclusive events; the authors selected this year are Margo Jefferson, David Whitehouse, Preti Taneja, Graeme Macrae Burnetyou and Lea Ypi (Gala Théâtre, Thursday 13e). Internationally bestselling crime writer LJ Ross has penned a new short story for the festival, The Mystery Of The Vanishing Mayor, 3,000 copies of which will be distributed across the county and she will be interviewing Dr Jacky Collins (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15e).

In 2019, DBF declared a climate emergency, drawing attention to the murky relationship between writing and the climate crisis. As part of this initiative, New Writing North’s resident climate writer, poet Linda France, creates projects that aim to start conversations and encourage us all to respond to the climate crisis. The launch of his new book, Startling, builds on the writing of his three-year residency (Collected Bookshop, Friday 14e). France is also inviting the public to write their own letter communicating their feelings about the climate crisis: a selection that will be presented in an installation at the Clayport Library.

Opportunities to fully experience a guided walk, talks, performances, readings, films and commissions exclusively prepared for the festival abound

Also high on the list of recommended events is a conversation with contemporary fiction writers Natasha Brown and Jessica Andrews, who discuss their acclaimed novels (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15e); mmusic fans will enjoy a talk from Bob Stanley about his new book, Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop. The journalist and member of the indie dance group Saint Etienne paints a magnificent sound picture of the formative years of pop music (Gala Theater Studio, Friday 14e); FEminist writer and activist Laura Bates tells us more about her new book on systemic and institutional biases, offering concrete ways forward (Gala Theatre, Friday 14e); there is a showcase of the work of three outstanding poets, Zaffar Kunial, Don Paterson and Degna Stone (Gala Theater Studio, Sunday 16e); and notnovelist and eeditor Kit De Waal will talk about her new memoir without warning & Only Sometimes, set in an amalgamation of the Irish, Caribbean and British worlds of 1960s Birmingham (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15e).

Jthree groundbreaking non-fiction writers, Helen Mort, Nina Mingya Powles and Amanda Thomson intrproduce their work spheres of nature writing and memory (Gala Theater Studio, Sunday 16e); for those with a penchant for modernist poetry, broadcaster and writer Jeremy Vine will talk about the landscapes of WH Auden and County Durham (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15e); for the visuals, Lisette Auton and Rob Irish present the closing film of the DBF order Write the missing tlaughter, who will be followed by a debate Between New Northern Writing’by Claire Malcolm and Auton herself (Gala Theater, Saturday 15e); and in a scientific light, Professor Jeroen van Hunen and Dr Charlotte Adams will present research on the role of abandoned mines in heat decarbonization and the impact these historic structures could have on green energy for the North East (Gala Theater Studio, Saturday 15e).

The Durham Book Festival takes place at various venues in Durham from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16the October.

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