Manchester Literature Festival programme announced

Margaret Atwood will open this year's Manchester Literature Festival, leading a programme that also welcomes Vivienne Westwood, Ben Okri, Anne Enright and Olivia Laing.

Feature by News Team | 12 Jul 2016

After a celebrated appearance at last year's event, Canadian author Margaret Atwood returns to Manchester Literature Festival for 2016 to unveil Hag-Seed, her retelling of The Tempest – part of a major new project reimagining Shakespeare's canon for contemporary audiences. Atwood heads a lineup of major international writers appearing in Manchester across the festival, from 7-23 October.

Designer and activist Vivienne Westwood will discuss her career, climate change and her adventures in political campaigning ahead of the publication of her book, Get A Life. Irish novelist Anne Enright will be in conversation with John McAuliffe of Manchester's Centre for New Writing about her Baileys Prize-shortlisted novel, The Green Road; three-time MLF visitor Lionel Shriver explores her new satire, The Mandibles; and Olivia Laing meditates on urban existence with her most recent book, The Lonely City

Having shot to fame with her Goldsmiths and Baileys prize-winning debut, A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing, Eimear McBride will be at MLF to discuss her new book, The Lesser Bohemians; while Jessie Burton, who also met acclaim (and won the Waterstones Book of the Year award) for her first novel, The Miniaturist, will talk about her new title, The Muse.

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Nigerian writer Ben Okri, making his MLF debut, leads this year's commissions programme with a lecture on the mystery of storytelling, which has been commissioned by MLF and the Royal Literary Fund.

The other special commissions for 2016 are: a new short story by Jane Rogers inspired by her residency at The Midland, which she will read at the hotel; a co-commission with the Canal & River Trust, which will see poet Jean Sprackland create a piece of work influenced by her time on a canal boat betwen Whaley Bridge and Manchester; and a short story inspired by Manchester Art Gallery's 14-18 NOW Fashion & Freedom exhibition, written and performed by Deborah Levy.

Also exploring local themes are Jenn Ashworth and Andrew Michael Hurley, who together will look at how the Lancashire landscape has influenced their most recent works, Fell and The Loney. This event forms part of the festival's 'Landscape and Literature' strand, which elsewhere will consider the impact of Barry Hines' book A Kestrel for a Knave on popular culture and the public's perception of the North.

The 'World Literature' strand presents joint winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2016, Deborah Smith, translator of Han Kang's novels The Vegetarian and Human Acts. She will be in conversation with one of South Korea's most exciting young novelists, Hwan Jung-Eun, about fiction, translation and writing about hard-hitting subjects. 

Elsewhere in this strand, Susan Barker will discuss how she interweaved tales from the Tong and Ming Dynasties, the Mongol Invasion, the Opium Wars and the Cultural Revolution into her award-winning novel, The Incarnations; one of Spanish literature's most powerful female voices Cristina Sanchez-Andrade will read from and talk about her new book, The Winterlings; Dutch novelist and journalist Tommy Wieringa makes a rare appearance to discuss his novella, A Beautiful Young Wife; Sweden’s Jonas Hassen Khemeri talks about his bittersweet, August Prize-winning title Everything I Don’t Remember; and Sudan’s Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, one of the leading African poets writing in Arabic today, will read from his collection A Monkey at the Window.

As usual, there are also lots of events for children and families – notably an appearance from Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, who will perform a selection of favourite poems at different events to tie in with the interactive exhibition Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things at Z-arts. 

This year's Manchester Literature Festival runs from 7-23 October.

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