Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Theme #1: Modern European

Digital Marketing Assistant Sarah-Clare Conlon introduces the first of a new series of blog posts in which Manchester Literature Festival staff members look at some of the themes of this year's massively varied programme.

The strong strand of modern European writing has really caught my eye at Manchester Literature Festival this year. I'm a huge fan of short fiction, so the European Short Stories event (Tuesday 18 October, 6pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, £5/£3 concs) has found itself firmly at the top of my list of must-sees. I'm looking forward to hearing the work of Norwegian writer Bjarte Breiteig, who has three critically acclaimed collections under his belt. One of my favourite short novels is Naive. Super by Trondheim-born Erlend Loe, so I'm interested to compare the styles and themes coming out of Norway. For this evening, Breiteig is joined by Thijs de Boer, a rising star on the literary scene in the Netherlands. His first short story collection, Birds That Eat Meat (Vogels Die Vlees Eten), is described as "one of the great literary surprises of the year" and was shortlisted for this year's Dutch/Belgian Youth Literature Award, so this promises to be a real treat.

The day before sees Crime In A Cold Climate (Monday 17 October, 7.30pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, £5/£3 concs). Nordic crime writing is big business following the successes of Swedish authors Henning Mankell (whose character Kurt Wallander crops up on TV in both English and Swedish) and Stieg Larsson (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest), and Icelandic author Arnaldur IndriĆ°ason, whose novel Tainted Love was made into the film Jar City. Barry Forshaw, author of Death In A Cold Climte: Scandinavian Crime Fiction will be chatting about the genre to K O Dahl, Thomas Enger and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, who will also read from their most recent work.

If poems are more your thing, then the Latvian & Macedonian Poetry evening (Wednesday 19 October, 6pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, free, but do book) and the European Poetry Night, (Friday 21 October, 6pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, £5/£3 concs) should be right up your street. Award-winning Anna Auzina appears in the first, alongside fellow Latvian poet Karlis Verdins and Macedonian writers Lidija Dimkovska and Igor Isakovski. The second showcase is presented by the BBC's Rosie Goldsmith and features prize-winning Hungarian poet Agnes Lehoczky, Lithuanian award-winner Marcelijus Martinaitis and Toon Tellegen, one of Holland's best-known writers.

For full details of all events at MLF 2011 and how to book, visit the website at

Monday, August 22, 2011

Manchester Blog Awards are go!

Nominations are now open for the Manchester Blog Awards 2011.

For six years, the awards have celebrated the best online writing in the city, raising Manchester’s image nationally and internationally as a blogging hotspot where technology and creativity sit happily side by side. From the start, MBA has taken place during Manchester Literature Festival and it continues to encourage a vibrant blogging, writing and live literature scene in the city.

Visit the Manchester Blog Awards website to nominate your favourite Manchester blogs in the following categories: Best Writing, Best Arts and Culture Blog, Best City or Neighbourhood Blog, Best New Blog and Best Personal Blog. Nominations close on Sunday 18 September after which a shortlist will be drawn up for each category and opened up to a public vote. The results of this process will be tallied with the choices of a judging panel to determine the winners.

The winners will be announced at a special Blog Awards event during Manchester Literature Festival at 7pm on Wednesday 19 October at The Deaf Institute (for booking information, visit the MBA website). As well as the glittering awards ceremony and readings from the best and brightest of the city's bloggers, the winners of The Real Story creative non-fiction competition will take to the stage and novelist Socrates Adams will read extracts of his forthcoming debut, Everything’s Fine (Transmission Print).

For the latest updates on the Manchester Blog Awards, subscribe via the MBA website or follow @mcrblogawards on Twitter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Introducing... the 2011 line-up!

The team behind Manchester Literature Festival are delighted to finally be able to let you in on this year's line-up, which we've been squirreling away organising behind the scenes for nearly a year. We're really excited that MLF 2011 celebrates its sixth birthday by being the biggest in its history, with more events than ever before and lasting 14 days from 10-23 October, plus two bookend events in November.

The programme is nothing if not diverse, covering every genre of literature from Nordic crime fiction to slam poetry, and from local writers to international stars, so whatever you're into bookwise, you should be able to find something to tickle your literary fancy. Full programme details can be found on the Manchester Literature Festival website: just click on the links to the Calendar and Events listings. You can also download a PDF copy of the Festival Brochure from the site and the paper version will be available in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled around town!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Another interesting local literary initiative....

Bookmark A Date in Your Diary… It’s Bookmarked ‘Debut Night’

Two stand-out debut British novelists launch "Bookmarked" - a new literary salon co-hosted by Simon Savidge and Adam Lowe at Waterstone's Deansgate on Monday 8th August, 6.30pm at Waterstone's Deansgate in the heart of Manchester.

"Bookmarked" aims to bring something new and fresh to the Manchester cultural scene. Two of the most talked-about and bestselling first-time novelists of 2011, Sarah Winman, author of "When God Was A Rabbit" and SJ Watson, author of "Before I Go To Sleep will be in conversation for the first time together - discussing their writing; plotting and characterisation - and how they travelled the rocky road to publication.

S J Watson was born and grew up in Stourbridge, in the West Midlands. After graduating with a degree in Physics from Birmingham University, Watson moved to London and began working with the hearing impaired in various London hospitals, eventually specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing impaired children, whilst spending evenings and weekends writing fiction. In 2009 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ Course, a programme that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go to Sleep is the result. Now sold in over 30 languages around the world, ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ has been also been acquired for film by Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, with Rowan Joffe to direct. It was also chosen for a ‘Book at Beachtime’ on Radio 4 Extra.

"It's exceptionally accomplished...The structure is so dazzling it almost distracts you from the quality of the writing." Guardian

"SJ Watson's debut doesn't put a foot wrong... brilliantly simple... Unforgettable." Financial Times Weekend

Sarah Winman grew up in Essex. She attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to act in theatre, film and television. 'When God Was A Rabbit’ went straight into the Sunday Times Bestseller List and has been chosen by endless book groups over the year including Richard and Judy, Waterstones and Grazia. It was selected for Simon Mayo's Book Club on BBC Radio 2 and it was also chosen as one of the ‘Waterstones 11’ which highlighted the debut novels to get excited about in 2011. Sarah lives in London and loves to escape to the family home in Cornwall as much as possible. 'When God Was a Rabbit’ is her first novel and she is currently working on her next.

‘Gloriously offbeat… Winman’s narrative voice is beautifully true, with a child’s unsentimental clarity. A superb debut’ The Times

‘It’s rare to find a novel you’re recommending to friends, family and colleagues by page 60 but When God Was A Rabbit is just that kind of book… A truly great book to lose yourself in; prepare to bore everyone else around you by telling them just how much they need to read it’ Stylist