Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Festival #3: Jenn Ashworth

As Manchester Literature Festival draws ever closer, we're inviting writers from the North West to pick the events they're hoping to catch this year.

Jenn Ashworth’s first novel, A Kind Of Intimacy, won a Betty Trask Award and was featured on the BBC’s Culture Show. Her second, Cold Light, was published earlier this year and she’s currently working on her third. She lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster and can be found online here.

Photograph: Martin Figura

On the 15th October, I’ll be attending War Stories. Both Michelle Green and Zoe Lambert have written startling, confident, humane and clear-eyed prose about war. What makes, I think, their work so successful is that they take on war’s massive machine by looking at it through small incidents in the lives of well observed characters. These are knowledgeable stories of ordinary people living extraordinary lives in places as familiar as Salford and as far away as Darfur. As well as listening to readings of the stories themselves, we’re also getting the opportunity to question the writers about writing process, their use of research and their own experiences of war, war tourism and the aftermath of conflict. The reading will also be the unofficial launch of The War Tour - Zoe’s collection of linked short stories, and the book will be available to purchase for the first time. Get your copy before they run out – this is important work and it is going to fly off the shelves.

Later on that same day, Manchester writer and The Big Issue In The North columnist Emma Jane Unsworth and novelist John Niven will be talking about their work. Emma’s book – Hungry, The Stars And Everything – is a real original treat. Witty, sensual, surprising and tender, it tells the story of a woman who changes her mind. And the devil. And a glow in the dark yoyo. Read it – I have, and it’s brilliant. John Niven will be talking about his new novel, The Second Coming – in which Jesus comes back and decides the best way to reach the people (this time) is through a TV talent contest. I can’t wait for an event that promises to be a nicely irreverent introduction to some really fresh writing.

Finally (I was only allowed to pick three events to plug, boo hiss), I’ll be attending the Manchester launch of Rachel Connor’s new novel Sisterwives. Sisterwives is a thoughtful and original novel about two women married to the same man and a satisfyingly complex exploration of a religious community. Rachel will be reading alongside special and surprise guests from Manchester’s own Commonword Womanswrite writing group so, as well as listening to a bit of Sisterwives, I’m really looking forward to being introduced to some local up-and-coming writing talent.

Jenn's Festival favourites

War Stories: Michelle Green & Zoe Lambert Saturday 15th October, 1.30pm, Imperial War Museum North (free, but booking is advised)
Emma Jane Unsworth & John Niven Saturday 15th October, 6pm, Waterstone's Deansgate (£5/£3 concs)
Sisterwives Wednesday 19th October, 6.30pm, Waterstone's Deansgate (free, but booking is advised)

For full details of all events at MLF 2011 and how to book, visit the website at www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk

No comments: