Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Festival #1: Elizabeth Baines

Welcome to the first of another new Manchester Literature Festival Blog feature. Each week in the run-up to Festival fortnight in October, we'll be inviting Manchester and North West-based writers to peruse the programme and give us their picks.

Kicking the series off is Elizabeth Baines, a writer of plays and prose fiction. Her short story collection Balancing On The Edge Of The World and her two novels, Too Many Magpies and The Birth Machine, are published by Salt Publishing.

It's impossible to choose between the live authors appearing, but I can pick out three more general/discussion events I'll make a special effort to get to. Wonderful - when Radio 4 is regrettably planning to cut back on short stories - to have an event celebrating the short story: the Manchester Fiction Prize Gala, with readings from the shortlisted authors and the judges. (You can sign a petition asking the BBC to reverse the decision here).

I'm actually ambivalent about literary prizes, however, as readers of my Fictionbitch blog will know, and I love the fact that the Festival is instigating a discussion on this very topic with the Prize Culture? event. The debate will apparently address a particular concern of mine: the fact that prizes undermine those works not nominated.

Finally, tailor-made for me is the evening celebrating the work of the daringly innovative but utterly humane writer BS Johnson, whom, as I writer, I'd call one of my greatest inspirations.

Elizabeth's Festival favourites

Manchester Fiction Prize Gala Friday 14th October, 7.30pm, Chetham's School of Music (£7/£5 concs)
Prize Culture? Tuesday 18th October, 7.30pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation (free, but booking is advised)
The Mind Has Fuses: A Celebration Of BS Johnson Saturday 22nd October, 6pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation (£5/£3 concs)

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

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