Hot picks for the Cambs Lit Fest (18 – 23 Apr)
Award-winning writers, poets and erudite panel members are synonymous with literary festivals and these days the events celebrate the joy of books and reading for all ages and interests – a surreal melting pot of fact, fiction and fun with famous names alongside first-timers. At this year’s 6-day Cambridge Literary Festival there’s something for everyone and to give you a head start I’ve pulled together a juicy assortment – from cookery and politics to fashion and new releases. The playground’s not ignored either with an exciting programme for nippers to those teenage rampagers. The box office opens on Wed 1 March and as Friends of the Festival have already had first pickings I’d have the phone ready at 9.59am as the lines open at 10am – brrrrrrring!
For the adults
Tues 18 April
Climate Change Simplified, Tony Juniper & Emily Shuckburgh
Climate change is one of the most urgent problems we face – where’s the snow gone for starters?! Tony Juniper, environmentalist and writer, and Emily Shuckburgh, a British Antarctic Survey scientist, have co- authored a book with HRH The Prince of Wales on the subject. The book is part of the new Ladybird Expert series offering a clear and accessible introduction to the burning issue of global warming.
Wed 19 April
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, Adam Rutherford
Everyone is talking about acclaimed science writer and broadcaster, Adam Rutherford. In A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived Rutherford uncovers the epic history of the human species, written in DNA. He examines where we came from, what makes us who we are and how in every one of our genomes we each carry the history of our species – births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and sex.
Comparing Notes, Richard Reed & Jo Malone
An innocent scent of a pair – co-founder of the successful Innocent brand Richard Reed, and fragrance guru Jo Malone join forces to serve up some personal wisdom and advice to comfort, motivate and inspire. In If I Could Tell You Just One Thing, Reed has collected stories from some of the world’s game-changers from Bill Clinton to Margaret Atwood, while Jo Malone’s My Story traces her remarkable journey from leaving school with no qualifications, to becoming one of the world’s most successful business women.
Literary Voices, Lisa McInerney & Kit de Waal
Two ferociously talented writers talk about their powerful new novels. Baileys Prize winning author of The Glorious Heresies, Lisa McInerney and Costa short-listed Kit de Waal author of My Name is Leon, tackle difficult issues of identity, adoption, dual heritage, and chaotic lives.
Thurs 20 April
Literary Voices, Vivek Shanbhag & Nadeem Aslam
Writing across countries and cultures Indian author Vivek Shanbhag and Pakistani author Nadeem Aslam talk about their stunning new novels. Vivek Shanbhag’s, Ghachar Ghochar – his first to be translated into English – is an enthralling, unsettling novel about the shifting meanings and consequences of financial gain in contemporary India. Nadeem Aslam’s The Golden Legend is a beautiful yet devastating novel set in modern Pakistan and a community consumed by religious intolerance.
Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra
This is the book of NOW. A penetrating and disquieting history of our present predicament, from Trump’s America to ISIS, Pankaj Mishra makes his compelling and powerful argument about the roots of current global disorder, delving into the past to throw light on our current turmoil. Only when the West understands its own dysfunction, Mishra argues, can it make sense of its anger. A perspective to be considered in these turbulent times.
Louise Doughty & Julie Myerson
Apple Tree Yard has caused quite a stir and for all the right reasons. Lucky for us the mastermind behind it, Louise Doughty joins fellow champion of gripping and dark psychological plots, Julie Myerson to discuss their creative addiction. Louise Doughty’s highly evocative new novel Black Water explores a forgotten part of Indonesia’s turbulent history through the story of one troubled man. Julie Myerson’s The Stopped Heart dares to look at what happens when every parent’s worst nightmare is realised.
Fri 21 April
Dopamine Diet, Tom Kerridge
The chef of the moment, Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge makes his debut festival appearance at last. Having shed eleven stone in three years, his new book show us exactly how he did it. Apparently it’s all about the low carbohydrate foods that release the ‘happy hormone’ dopamine (sounds fun) – Kerridge offers advice on changing your eating habits without compromising on flavour. He sells out fast so move quickly if you want to pick up some tips.
The Disappearance of Émile Zola, Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen has brought his spirited and engaging style to bear on the telling of the incredible story of Émile Zola’s escape to London in the aftermath of the scandalous Dreyfus affair. Forced to leave Paris with nothing but the clothes he stood in and a nightshirt wrapped in newspaper, Zola fled to England with no idea if or when he could return. Find out about the little known story of this great writer’s time in exile.
The Science of Mind Over Body, Jo Marchant
Can meditation fend off dementia? Can your thoughts ease physical pain? Award-winning science journalist, Jo Marchant attempts to answer these questions. Travelling the world to meet the physicians, patients and researchers on the cutting edge of mind-body medicine she asks how the brain can heal the body and how we can all make changes to keep ourselves healthier.
The Good Immigrant, Darren Chetty, Vera Chok & Coco Khan
An unlikely success story of 2016 – in this extraordinary crowd funded anthology, 21 emerging writers of colour explore life in modern Britain. These outstanding essays about race and immigration paint a picture of what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you, but needs you for its equality monitoring forms. Join three writers who will help us get to the heart of the race issue in Britain.
The Harry Baker Poetry Show
Come and see what all the fuss is about as Harry Baker, World Poetry Slam Champion, brings his blistering word play, ferocious intelligence and delightful daftness, to the festival on Friday night. His debut anthology, The Sunshine Kid, came out in 2014 and the subsequent show was voted Best Spoken Word Show of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. His work has been shared on TED.com, viewed millions of times worldwide, and translated into 15 languages.
Sat 22 Apr
Three Daughters of Eve, Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak is one of today’s most influential international writers and intellectuals who straddles east and west. With a suitcase of awards behind her she is the most widely read female writer in Turkey and her work has been translated into over 40 languages. Her latest novel, set in Istanbul and Oxford, is a sweeping tale of faith and friendship, tradition and modernity.
USA 100 Days On, Sarah Churchwell, Erica Wagner & Andrew Preston
The result of the American election sent shock waves throughout the world. 100 days on join a panel of experts to discuss these extraordinary times: the repercussions and threats posed to the basic values of democracy, civil liberty and human rights.
Carpe Diem Regained, Roman Krznaric
In this era of incessant iPhone checking, email obsession and social media slavery (hang on, I’ve just got to send a text) we are increasingly living in an age of mass distraction. Leading social philosopher and TedX speaker Roman Krznaric claims that Carpe Diem has been hijacked by brands and retailers. He argues that we have forgotten how to actively take part in the world around us and offers a corrective to contemporary follies and a reminder to live with greater compassion, consciousness and intention.
Inside Vogue, Alexandra Shulman
Who better to tell the inside story of British Vogue in its centenary year than its longest serving editor, Alexandra Shulman? Uniquely placed to give an insight into the fascinating world of fashion and a British institution, Shulman has also given a rich, personal, and sharply observed account of being a businesswoman, entrepreneur, cultural figurehead and mother, in twenty-first century Britain.
Sun 23 Apri
Grantchester Mysteries, James Runcie
A chance to meet the author of the much loved Grantchester Mysteries. These gentle but artfully fashioned stories have been beautifully adapted for ITV’s Grantchester and have charmed millions. Be ready to be captivated and beguiled by James Runcie and his protagonist Sidney Chambers.
Getting Published, Dan Kieran & Clare Christian
A must for any aspiring writers – crowdfunding and subscription models of publishing are not new but with new online tools and smart marketing techniques writers can see their work published and promoted by committed professionals. A chance to ask Dan Kieran of Unbound and Clare Christian of Redbooks how they can help writers find the widest audience for their books.
Ali Smith’s Debut Writers
The Debut Writers sessions have been the launching pad for many successful novelists. The best of debut fiction is represented here by three sparkling new voices: Sally Rooney (Conversations with Friends), Eley Williams (Attrib. and other stories) and Luke Kennard (The Transition).
Who Lost Russia? Peter Conradi
Russia is never far from the headlines but understanding it is more difficult. Having witnessed the collapse of USSR first hand as Foreign Correspondent in Moscow, few people are as well placed as Peter Conradi to present such a revealing study. He argues that we have consistently failed to understand Russia and its motives, and in doing so have made a powerful enemy.
The consistently brilliant Rose Tremain never fails to delight and this year she’s talking about her latest novel, The Gustav Sonata. Set in Switzerland after the Second World War, this is a story of betrayal, the struggle for happiness and the healing power of friendship.
Brexit: What Next? Chris West, David Goodhart & Julian Huppert
For many of us the prospect of post-brexit Britain looks incontrovertibly like the worst of times. A panel of experts discuss the process of leaving the European Union and its aftermath and reflect on whether we could possibly envision a future that could be the best of times.
Ayesha’s Gift, Martin Sixsmith
Another true story from Martin Sixsmith, investigative journalist and author of the book that went on to became the award-winning film, Philomena. Pakistan born Ayesha Rahman, was a successful career woman when her life was thrown into turmoil by the violent death of her father. Told he committed suicide, Ayesha knew this couldn’t be true. This is the account of her struggle to find the truth with the help of Sixsmith, who accompanies her to Pakistan to confront her father’s killers. A riveting, moving story.
Days Without End, Sebastian Barry
Sebastian Barry’s new novel Days Without End is this year’s literary sensation. Set in mid-nineteenth century America, Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language, and a deserving winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award.
A Hebridean Journey, Madeleine Bunting
Award-winning, best-selling author, Madeleine Bunting has a passion for the north-west of Scotland and has spent years travelling and staying in the Hebrides. Love of Country is her deeply researched, penetrating book about the iconic islands. Hear her fascinating take on the islands’ history as a backdrop to current debates about the meaning of Britain.
One of Britain’s foremost contemporary artists, Maggi Hambling is best known for her portraits, paintings of the sea, and public sculpture – both celebrated and controversial. Less familiar are her works on paper, dynamic and sensuous – condensing the themes of life and death which underscore her art. She forges an immediate and powerful connection with the subject being drawn, and it is this concept of ‘touch’ which pervades her work. Hambling will be discussing her new book – published to coincide with a major retrospective of her work on paper at the British Museum in 2016. Her exhibition of new paintings and sculpture, EDGE, is at Marlborough Fine Art, London 2 Mar – 13 Apr.
Who I Am, Charlotte Rampling
A rare opportunity to spend an hour with the actress, model and sixties icon Charlotte Rampling. Most recently on our screens in ITV’s Broadchurch, HBO’s Dexter and 45 Years, Rampling’s career spans popular entertainment and arthouse cinema, starring in English, French and Italian films. Until now, she has shied away from ‘too personal’ autobiography, but with Who I Am, Rampling gives an idiosyncratic and beguiling insight into one of our most consistently adventurous and interesting actors.
Sat 22 April
A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be, Gemma Cairney, age 13+
BBC Radio 1 presenter, TV personality, journalist and teen ambassador Gemma Cairney talks about how magic and messed up life can be: from mental health to families to first love, and everything in between. Gemma Cairney is an important advocate for young people and between her life experiences and her personal insight from her time as BBC Radio 1’s resident agony aunt on The Surgery, she is perfectly placed to offer hope to young people (and the people that love them) questioning what life’s all about or dealing with hard times.
The Bone Season Series, Samantha Shannon, age 14+
Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population: but little does she know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it. Join internationally best-selling author of the Bone Season series Samantha Shannon for the hotly-anticipated third book.
Straight Outta Crongton, Alex Wheatle, age 14+
Join Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winning author of Crongton Knights Alex Wheatle as he returns to the fictional inner-city council estate Crongton, plagued by knife crime and crawling with “hood rats” in his latest book Straight Outta Crongton. Alex regularly appears on BBC1’s The One Show, represents English PEN and is active in promoting diverse voices in literature.
Sun 23 April
Mermaid Tales, Laura Dockrill, age 12+
Forget fairy stories and damsels in distress: being a teenage girl is tough, but when you’re a mermaid living on land it is even tougher. Dive in with performance poet and novelist Laura Dockrill for a hilarious and riotous adventure exploring her fin- tastic Carnegie Medal nominated YA novel Lorali, and glimpse a sneak peek of her newest character, the badass steampunk mermaid Aurabel.
Kids, age 2 -12
Fri 21 Apr
A Busy Day for Birds! Age 2+
Flap your wings, fly up high, open your beak and sing in this fun action rhyme story about fantastical birds by multi-award- winning author Lucy Cousins. A bouncy sing-a-long event to start the day with a chorus.
Maisy Goes to London, age 3+
Join Maisy Mouse and her friends for an exciting day visiting the big city – and there is so much to see! Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, and even the Globe Theatre – an exciting day, with the chance to meet Maisy Mouse herself.
Sat 22 Apr
Thank You, Mr Panda, Steve Antony, age 2+
Mr Panda is back and this time he is happy to help his friends prepare for a special surprise! Come along and meet the loveable Panda and creator Steve Antony, to explore the importance of good manners with this simplistic, visually striking and beautifully crafted book.
Ellie’s Magic Wellies, Amy Sparkes, age 3+
Ellie Pengelly is fed up and bored, until she gets a pair of magical new wellies! When Ellie goes out to explore in these new wellies she jumps into a puddle but… something jumps out! A fantastic rhyming picture book that fizzes with fun from Roald Dahl Prize award-winning Amy Sparkes.
Walker Big Draw, Spike Gerrell, age 8+
Do you dream of becoming a famous illustrator? Come along and learn how to design “spikey-nosed” sketches, kooky characters and awesome art in this hands-on event for budding young artists. Roll up your sleeves and create a giant picture book with your friends, pinching tips of the trade from prolific children’s book illustrator and comic strip creator Spike Gerrell (New Scientist, Independent, Guardian).
Vikings in Supermarkets, Kings at Car Boot Sales, Nick Sharratt, all ages
Join award-winning children’s illustrator Nick Sharratt for live- drawing, games and all-round silliness as he shares some brand new picture books plus old favourites too. Nick has illustrated hundreds of books for Julia Donaldson, Jeremy Strong and Jaqueline Wilson including Tracy Beaker, which was the most borrowed library book in the UK for the first decade of this century.
Star Wars Reads: Tom Huddleston & JAKe, age 8+
Can you speak Droid? Want to draw a Wookiee? In a galaxy not so far away, join author of Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space Tom Huddleston and illustrator of How to Speak Wookiee and How to Speak Droid with R2-D2 JAKe for an intergalactic voyage into the world of Star Wars. Learn to draw characters, meet new ones and test your knowledge of the super-selling space series. Costumes welcome!
A Celebration, Jaqueline Wilson, age 9+
Join former Children’s Laureate and internationally best-selling author Jacqueline Wilson OBE as she remembers her much-loved classic children’s books and offers a sneak-peek of her not-yet-out newest novel. Jaqueline Wilson has sold over 40 million copies of books worldwide, several of which have been adapted for TV including Tracy Beaker (CBBC), Girls in Love (ITV) and The Illustrated Mum (Channel 4 TV). Don’t even think of missing it!
Katherine Rundell & Abi Elphinstone, age 9+
Giants lurk between snow-capped peaks, the Russian Army looms, wolves are taught to be wild and witchdoctors, goblins and dark magic abounds. Join prize-winning authors Katherine Rundell (The Wolf Wilder) and Abi Elphinstone (The Shadow Keeper and The Night Spinner) on an adventure into the northern wilderness and magical landscapes.
Attack of the Woolly Jumper, Mark Lowery, age 9+
Roman endures a royal visit and a school fashion show in a jumper knitted by his Grandma…which would be fine, if she hadn’t knitted him the crummiest jumper (aka “crumper”) on earth. When the jumper causes a swan attack and a biker to swerve off the road, can Roman keep his whole life from unravelling? Join Roald Dahl Funny Prize short-listed author Mark Lowery for some side-splitting fun and a great yarn.
Sun 23 April
Kipper and Wibbly Pig 21st Birthday Celebrations, age 2+
Join professional storyteller Liz Fost and have fun with everyone’s favourite dog, Kipper, and pig, Wibbly Pig. With exciting stories and fun games – all based on author and illustrator Mick Inkpen’s much-loved stories – Kipper himself will be making an appearance. Liz Fost is a professional actor and children’s storyteller who has appeared in numerous television programmes including The Shiny Show, Numberjacks and Dr Who and was a regular presenter on Playdays.
Fairytale Frankie and the Mermaid Escapade. Greg Gormley & Steve Lenton, age 2+
Down at the seaside, everyone is afraid of the awful sea Monster! Only plucky Frankie can reassure her friends and teach them how to be brave together. Join author, Greg Gormley and illustrator, Steven Lenton for Frankie’s latest adventure and to take part in some monstrously fun art activities.
My Very Own Space, Pippa Goodhart, age 2+
Enjoy the story of a rabbit who wants a place of his own. My Very Own Space is Pippa Goodhart’s new picture book, but she will also be sharing old favourites such as You Choose, and lifting the flaps to reveal Little Monster at a spooky party.
Harry Potter – Boy. Wizard. Hero. Celebrating the Harry Potter books, age 9+
A must for all HP fans. Have you ever wanted to explore the magical world of Harry Potter books? Which Professor of Hogwarts would you like to meet? Join Fleurble Laffalott (super-assistant to the Professor of Potter) for a fun and interactive hour as she introduces some of the great Professors from J.K. Rowling’s much loved books, and throws in some transfiguration, potions and even a slow-motion Quidditch match along the way! Come dressed for the occasion.