FEATURE: Durham Book Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Kit de Waal by Sarah M Lee

New Writing North presents the esteemed Durham Book Festival at venues throughout the city this month, with accessible options via live streaming available for many events. Local libraries will stock festival titles, and the Big Little Read initiative allows for 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 announcement of the winner of The Gordon Burn Prize, a celebration of fiction and narrative non-fiction which challenges convention, is among several exclusive events; this years shortlisted authors are Margo Jefferson, David Whitehouse, Preti Taneja, Graeme Macrae Burnett and Lea Ypi (Gala Theatre, Thursday 13th). Internationally bestselling crime writer LJ Ross has written new short story for the festival, The Mystery Of The Vanishing Mayor, 3,000 copies of which will be distributed around the county and she’ll be in conversation with Dr Jacky Collins (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15th).

In 2019, DBF declared a climate emergency, drawing attention to the troubled relationship between writing and the climate crisis. As part of that initiative, New Writing North’s climate writer in residence, poet Linda France, creates projects which aim to start conversations and encourage us all to respond to the climate crisis. The launch of her new book, Startling, draws on writing from her three-year residency (Collected Bookshop, Friday 14th). France also invites the public to write their own letter communicating their feelings about the climate crisis: a selection which will be displayed in a Clayport Library installation.

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 an in conversation with contemporary fiction writers Natasha Brown and Jessica Andrews, who discuss their acclaimed novels (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15th); music fans will delight in a talk from Bob Stanley about his new book, Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop. The journalist and member of indie dance band Saint Etienne paints a wonderful aural picture of pop music’s formative years (Gala Theatre Studio, Friday 14th); feminist writer and activist Laura Bates will tell us more about her new book on systemic and institutional prejudice, offering concrete paths forward (Gala Theatre, Friday 14th); there’s a showcase of work by three exceptional poets, Zaffar Kunial, Don Paterson and Degna Stone (Gala Theatre Studio, Sunday 16th); and novelist and editor Kit De Waal will speak about her new memoir Without Warning & Only Sometimes, set in an amalgam of Irish, Caribbean and British worlds of 1960s Birmingham (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15th).

Three groundbreaking non-fiction writers, Helen Mort, Nina Mingya Powles and Amanda Thomson introduce their work in the spheres of nature writing and memoir (Gala Theatre Studio, Sunday 16th); for those with a leaning towards modernist poetry, broadcaster and writer Jeremy Vine will talk about W.H. Auden and County Durham landscapes (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15th); for the visually minded, Lisette Auton and Rob Irish present the closing film in the DBF commissioned Writing The Missing trilogy, which will be followed by a discussion between New Writing North’s Claire Malcolm and Auton herself (Gala Theatre, Saturday 15th); and in a scientific light, Professor Jeroen van Hunen and Dr Charlotte Adams will present research about the role of abandoned mines in decarbonising heat and the impact these historic structures could have on Green Energy for the North East (Gala Theatre Studio, Saturday 15th).

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

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