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From surfing and shopping through politics, community and identity, an ambitious new series turns a spotlight on the contemporary North East to uncover the stories that are rarely told outside the region.

New Narratives for the North East is a series of 20 podcasts, essays and creative writing commissioned by New Writing North with the North East Cultural Partnership supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. They shine a light on some of the contemporary issues within the region from surfing and shopping through politics, community and identity. 

These works have been published on the Durham Book Festival website as part of the digital festival which runs until 18th October and include works from author of Skellig – David Almond, disabled writer and activist – Lisette Auton, Sid Chaplin Award winning writer – Lyndsey Ayre, critically acclaimed author – Richard Benson, Year 10 Excelsior Academy student – Bethan Curley, Serve Cool author – Lauren Davies, freelance journalist – Andrew Hankinson, Teesside-based young writer – India Hunter, author and biographer – Richard T Kelly, novelist – Carmen Marcus, theatre writer – J. A. Mensah, Newcastle University lecturer – Alex Niven, travel and culture writer – Bronwen Riley, writer and social entrepreneur – Mim Skinner and journalist – Melissa Tutesigensi.

The commissions were made during a pandemic, in which the North-East has been amongst the worst hit, and takes on some of the major concerns of the region, and offers a kaleidoscopic view of the region focusing on some of the unique place in the North-East and the people who live in them.

Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North, adds: “For too many years, an unwavering story has been told about our region, that perhaps has not served us very well and perhaps doesn’t reflect the opportunities that the future holds. To bring some new voices and some new ideas into the conversation we asked some of our region’s leading literary voices to reflect on the idea of new narratives for the region. They have done this wonderfully – drawing on our histories and legacies but challenging our perceptions and digging into what the people of the North East are really about and through that, considering what direction our shared future might take. The work is provocative, unexpected and provides much food for thought as well as celebration.”

The essays, podcasts and creative writing pieces are available for free via the Durham Book Festival website.


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