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

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Image: Zaafar Kunial by Geraint Hill

Durham Book Festival will welcome 40 authors to the city for a lively weekend of events, discussions, workshops and readings from Friday 13th-Sunday 15th October.

The festival is book-ended by a couple of very special events. Festival laureate Zaafar Kunial will open festivities by reading from his recent poetry collection England’s Green, as well as present a newly commissioned poem inspired by Durham (Friday 13th, Gala Studio). A real must-attend is a world-exclusive dramatic live reading from Durham author Benjamin Myers’ acclaimed novel, Cuddy, which traces the story of St. Cuthbert through the centuries, told with Myers’ typical aplomb, and created in partnership with Live Theatre director Jack McNamara, and featuring music from The Shining Levels (Sunday 15th, Gala Theatre). Delve further into the life of St Cuthbert during Cuddy’s Corse, a guided walk which will see event goers walk from the Church of St Mary & St Cuthbert in Chester-le-Street to Durham Cathedral whilst taking in the story of St Cuthbert told through fact and fiction (Saturday 14th).

Further highlights include an event with food critic Grace Dent, who will be discussing her new book Comfort Eating, which celebrates the food that we turn to when we crave a bit of nostalgia or carving a slice of time aside with foods that we call ‘guilty pleasures’ (Friday 13th, Gala Theatre). Acclaimed political thinkers Sebastian Payne and Chris Mullin discuss their books and the region’s approaching devolution (Saturday 14th, Gala Theatre). John Murray Press celebrate three of their most exciting debut novels publishing next year, Gender Theory by Madeline Doherty, Cinema Love by Andy Jiaming Tang and The Borrowed Hills by Scott Preston (plus, festival goers get early copies of the books!) (Sunday 15th, Gala Studio). Broadcaster Melanie Sykes reveals her experiences being diagnosed with autism aged 51, and reads from her book Illuminated (Sunday 15th, Gala Theatre). And there’s a poetry showcase featuring readings from Mary Jean Chan, Kit Fan and Jen Campbell (Sunday 15th, Gala Studio).

A real must-attend is a world-exclusive dramatic live reading from Durham author Benjamin Myers’ acclaimed novel, Cuddy

Female characters are put under the spotlight in a couple of interesting events: writers Natasha Solomons and Isabelle Schuler discuss their processes of giving new voices to some of Shakespeare’s female characters in their novels (Saturday 14th, Gala Studio); author Kirsty Logan and graphic novelist Eleanor Crewes discuss their contributions to a collection of short stories for ground-breaking feminist publisher Virago in celebration of their 50th anniversary (Saturday 14th, Gala Studio); and Sunday Times bestselling author Janina Ramirez explores Durham’s medieval history, the female saints who were St Cuthbert’s contemporaries and her ground-breaking reappraisal, Femina, which looks at women who were struck from our historical narratives (Saturday 14th, Gala Theatre).

There are opportunities for budding writers to stretch their skills at workshops at Clayport Library: on Saturday, Caro Giles discusses how creativity supports wellbeing and Laura Fish’s workshop looks at approaches for turning history into fiction. On Sunday, poet, novelist and critic Kit Fan explores the myths and mechanics of a novel’s beginning, while poet and filmmaker David Spittle explores connections between storytelling and poetry.

Add to all this readings from Katherine Heiny, Ruth Ware, Nasheema Lennon, Trevor Wood, C Pam Zhang, Sheena Patel, Cecile Pin, Jeanette Winterson, Helen Rebanks, Pip Fallow, Isabel Hardman and Charlotte Van den Broeck.

Durham Book Festival takes place at various venues across the city from Friday 13th-Sunday 15th October.

Read exclusive features with some of the authors taking part in Durham Book Festival here


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