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Image: Inual Ellams

One of the countries oldest literary festivals returns to the region from Friday 7th until Sunday 16th October.

Last year Durham Book Festival engaged with over 70,000 bibliophiles across over 60 events, and this year’s festival is just as monumental. Kicking off with the announcement of the winner of the Gordon Burn Prize (Friday 7th, Durham Town Hall), six shortlisted writers will read from their nominated work before one is presented with the £5,000 reward. This thrilling start opens the door to an eclectic and diverse mix of talks, readings and performances spread over ten days.

With the theme of politics and society at the heart of this year’s festival, visitors can engage with the likes of Laura Bates, whose work delves in to the issues surrounding media representations of sexism (Saturday 8th, Durham Town Hall); Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who pioneers his vision of the future and looks at how we can develop a society with the interests of the working people at the top (Sunday 11th, Gala Theatre); while Nikesh Shukla gathers 21 emerging writers for a series of essays on race and immigration (Saturday 8th, Palace Green Library); and award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams tells his poignant story of escaping fundamentalist Islam in An Evening With An Immigrant (Saturday 8th, Gala Theatre Studio).

an eclectic and diverse mix of talks, readings and performances

Literature and music lovers are in for a treat when Mercury-prize nominee Kathryn Williams performs her work Hypoxia (Saturday 8th, Durham Town Hall), a reaction to the works of Sylvia Plath born from a Durham Book Festival 2013 commission. As songwriter-in-residence she will also lead an esteemed group of musicians and writers in a songwriting retreat, with the fruits of their labours turned into a performance (Saturday 15th, Gala Theatre). More musical gems are on offer thanks to author and journalist George Monbiot, who teams up with folk singer Ewan McLennan on his project about loneliness (Wednesday 12th, The Miners’ Hall).

Poetry fans are also well catered for, with the launch of Newcastle-based collective Greyscale’s new ‘zine (Saturday 8th, Empty Shop HQ); there’s spoken-word theatre courtesy of Matt Miller’s Sticking, which tackles moving away from home for the first time (Sunday 9th, Gala Theatre Studio); local young poets take center stage in Knee Deep, exploring writing for performance rather than the printed word (Saturday 15th, Empty Shop HQ); and Northern Poetry Library celebrates poetry from the North, with a series of readings (Saturday 15th, Palace Green Library).

For something a bit more comical, Natalie Diddams presents Thesmo, a fusion of stand-up, sketch and lecture which celebrates the disruptive power of women doing comedy (Saturday 15th, Empty Shop HQ); and performance poet Attila the Stockbroker launches his autobiography, Arguments Yard (Sunday 16th, Empty Shop HQ).

Don’t miss the rare chance to bask in the presence of the famous author of the Alex Rider series, Anthony Horowitz, who will speak about his career and introduce his new crime novel Magpie Murders (Wednesday 12th, Gala Theatre); while Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos introduces his new book, I’ll Sell You A Dog (Sunday 9th, Durham Town Hall).

Look out for the Little Free Libraries project too, where visitors are encouraged to take a free book when you see a little library, as long as you replace it with one of your own.

Durham Book Festival takes place across various venues in Durham from Friday 7th until Sunday 16th October.

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