Hay Festival Book Club

Timeless titles to offer you a break from the day to day. Can't decide what to read next? Follow your curiosity and join Hay Festival on a journey to imagine the world anew through great literature. Unconstrained by genre or form these are our monthly picks of great books worth reading (or re-reading) right now.

Throughout the month, we'll share interesting links and articles relating to our selection on social media using #HFBookClub and invite you all to get involved with your questions and comments. Each selection will also be marked with a free online event.

If you'd like to recommend a book for consideration, get in touch via bookclub@hayfestival.org.

Happy reading!

June 2024 - A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James


Jamaica, 1976. Seven gunmen storm Bob Marley’s house, machine guns blazing. The reggae superstar survives. The gunmen are never caught.

Marlon James’ dazzling novel reimagines an event that has become a modern myth. Spanning three decades, A Brief History of Seven Killings chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters: slum kids, one-night stands, drug lords, girlfriends, gunmen, journalists and even the CIA.

Gripping and inventive, ambitious and mesmerising, this is a stunning new edition of one of the most acclaimed novels of the twenty-first century.

May 2024 - Knife by Salman Rushdie


From internationally renowned writer and Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie, a searing, deeply personal account of enduring — and surviving — an attempt on his life thirty years after the fatwa that was ordered against him.

Speaking out for the first time, and in unforgettable detail, about the traumatic events of August 12, 2022, Rushdie answers violence with art, and reminds us of the power of words to make sense of the unthinkable. Knife is a gripping, intimate, and ultimately life-affirming meditation on life, loss, love, art — and finding the strength to stand up again.

April 2024 - Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka


One morning, ordinary salesman Gregor Samsa wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant cockroach…

Metamorphosis, Kafka's novella of unease and black humour, was first published in 1915 and has become one of the twentieth century's most influential works of fiction. It is the longest of the stories Kafka considered complete and published during his lifetime.

As 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of Kafka's death, this is a chance to explore his enduring global legacy through a close reading of one of his most iconic works.

March 2024 - Fresh Apples by Rachel Trezise


Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize, this collection of short stories contains wry and defiant statements on power and the beautiful transience of youth.

Across eleven stories, Rachel Trezise effortlessly depicts the daily lives of communities in South Wales, offering a commentary on modern inequality, a bold challenge to our political systems, and a bridge across divides.

First published in 2006, it is as relevant today as ever before.

February 2024 - Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin


When David meets the sensual Giovanni in a bohemian bar, he is swept into a passionate love affair. But his girlfriend’s return to Paris destroys everything. Unable to admit to the truth, David pretends the liaison never happened – while Giovanni’s life descends into tragedy.

Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, this now-classic story of a fated love triangle explores, with uncompromising clarity, the conflicts between desire, conventional morality and sexual identity.

January 2024 - The Orange and Other Poems by Wendy Cope


A selection of Wendy Cope’s most beloved poems to offer inspiration and comfort for the new year, The Orange and other poems blends laugh-out-loud funny with the deeply moving.

From the joy of falling in love to ways to help you deal with a painful break-up or the memories of people loved and lost, this is a book you will want to savour and share with all your friends.

My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.

Supported by the Unwin Charitable Trust