Northwest Book Highlights – September 2015

Controversial and political figures hit Manchester and Liverpool as Richard Dawkins and Margaret Atwood come to town, while Gladfest invites audiences to share their own opinions

Preview by Emma Nuttall | 01 Sep 2015
  • Margaret Atwood

This month the literary scene begins to take itself up a gear, mirroring that old September feeling of summer passing, holidays nearly done, obligations gathering, books and back to school.

Manchester’s biggest date on the literary calendar finally arrives as Margaret Atwood takes to the stage at the Royal Exchange on 27 Sep. Widely known for her bestselling titles The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin and the MaddAddam trilogy, Atwood will be in conversation with broadcaster and critic Erica Wagner discussing her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last. Once again she explores the realms of a not-too-distant-future dystopia, flipping society as we know it on its head with law-abiding citizens locked up and the lawless allowed to roam free. Meanwhile, young lovers Charmaine and Stan sign up for a social experiment that descends into a nightmare of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire. You can look forward to controversial and revolutionary insight from this notably outspoken heavyweight author.

On the very same night, Bad Language hosts Molly Naylor (creator of BBC Radio 4’s Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think of You) and John Osborne (creator of sell-out theatre show John Peel’s Shed) at Gullivers for the Manchester leg of their joint inaugural poetry tour. The pair came together after both having sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe to showcase a selection of their best material, which comprises of a mix of accessible, lyrical, life-affirming poetry with universal appeal.

Richard Dawkins, voted by Prospect magazine as the ‘World’s Top Thinker,’ will be paying a visit to the Lowry in Manchester (14 Sep) and the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool (15 Sep). Dawkins will discuss his new memoir, Brief Candle in the Dark, disclosing further details about his personal history and the influences that have shaped his life and intellectual development. Love him or loathe him, this should prove to be a fascinating evening that helps us understand the world’s most famous atheist and the author of some of the most audacious books of the 20th century.

Elsewhere, Verbose is back after a summer break. Its new open-mic season kicks off on 28 Sep with a stellar lineup of headliners from the creative writing department at the University of Manchester. This month sees special performances from lecturers Ian McGuire, John McAuliffe and Geoff Ryman at Fallow Cafe. A great event for students to see what stuff their mentors are made of!

And finally, Gladstone’s Library, Flintshire, welcomes a host of internationally renowned writers, creatives and thinkers for the third instalment of its literary festival, Gladfest. Over 20 talks and workshops will be taking place across the three-day literary festival, which boasts a packed programme of history, politics, fiction and contemporary culture. This year features a lineup of writers ready to challenge and enthral their audience. Festival highlights include talks from Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White, The Book of Strange New Things), Patrick Gale (A Place Called Winter, Notes from an Exhibition) and Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist). A passion for books, writing, culture, and ideas is all you will need.

Margaret Atwood, The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, Sun 27 Sep, 3pm, £12 (£10),

My Life in Science: An evening with Richard Dawkins, The Lowry, Manchester, Mon 14 Sep, 8pm, £16,

The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool, Tue 15 Sep, 12.30pm, £15.50,

Molly Naylor and John Osborne Debut Poetry Tour, Gullivers, Manchester, Sun 27 Sep, 7.30pm, £6.60,

Verbose, Fallow Café, Manchester, Mon 28 Sep, 7.30pm, free,

Gladfest, Gladstone Library, Flintshire, Fri 4–Sun 6 Sep, times vary, £10 (£6),