How did humans turn themselves from insignificant African apes into the rulers of planet earth? Our secret of success is that we are the only animals that can talk about things that exist purely in our own imagination, such as gods, nations, money, and human rights.
Photo: Olivia Hemmingway
Once upon a (very, very) long time ago Jo Brand was what you might describe as ‘a nice little girl’. Of course, that was before the values of cynicism, misogyny and the societal expectation that Jo would be thin, feminine and demure sent her off down Arsey Avenue. Now she’s considerably further along life’s inevitable bloody ‘journey’ – and she’s fucked up enough times to feel confident she has no wisdom to offer anyone. But who cares? She’s going to do it anyway...
Join Holly Smale, winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and creator of the bestselling Geek Girl series, talking to Damian Kelleher about smart and funny fiction for smart and funny readers. Guaranteed to get your geek on!
Kalfar’s The Spaceman of Bohemia is an extraordinary vision of the endless human capacity to persist and risk everything in the name of love and home. Nors’ Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a witty, gut wrenching, lyrical tale of one woman’s journey in search of herself when there’s no-one to ask for directions. The Danish novelist is longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. They talk to Rosie Goldsmith.
Adam, an editor at Nature, explores the ground-breaking neuroscience of cognitive enhancement that is changing the way the brain and the mind works – to make it better, sharper, more focused and, yes, more intelligent. Sharing his own experiments with revolutionary smart drugs and electrical stimulation, he delves into the sinister history of intelligence tests, meets savants and brain hackers, and reveals how he boosted his own IQ to cheat his way into Mensa.
The winning author and translator of Celestial Bodies join us for a conversation with the chair of the jury. Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present.
Bettany Hughes says: “Through the different tentacles of people’s lives and loves and losses we come to learn about this society – all its degrees, from the very poorest of the slave families working there to those making money through the advent of a new wealth in Oman and Muscat. It starts in a room and ends in a world. We felt we were getting access to ideas and thoughts and experiences you aren’t normally given in English. It avoids every stereotype you might expect in its analysis of gender and race and social distinction and slavery. There are surprises throughout. We fell in love with it.”
The Medievalist and Fantasy scholar considers our interest in life without death – as vampires, zombies or in other forms, and as it appears in myth, folklore, literary novels and popular culture. What can these stories tell us about the desire for immortality?
Antonio Lucas is a consummate poet, as well as a columnist of El Mundo; Peio H. Riaño has displayed his professional insight in the most prominent cultural publications in the country; Fernando R. Lafuente, former director of the Instituto Cervantes; and Jesús Ruiz Mantilla, with five novels in the bookshops, all declare their passion for Roberto Bolaño —already a legend—, justifying and even criticizing it.
Co-organised and produced by AC/E (Acción Cultural Española)
Between 1900 and 1950, Britain amassed a huge collection of over 800 historic buildings, monuments and sites and opened them to the public – a programme that established a modern state on deep historical and rural foundations.
The author of Vermeer’s Hat uses environmental crises to re-narrate China’s history from the time of Khubilai Khan down to the collapse of the Ming dynasty. His unique environmental indicator? Dragon sightings! Just because the Chinese saw dragons, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Chaired by Horatio Clare.
How do professionals across all sectors develop the survival skills for a resilient future? Join us to take the great ideas you’ve jotted on the back of beer mats or napkins and make them real.
The actor gives a reading of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s radical 1819 poem, written in response to the Peterloo Massacre. The reading is introduced by John Mullan.
Maxine Peake was originally commissioned to perform The Masque of Anarchy in a full performance by Manchester International Festival.
Morris’ intimate journals unconsciously explore questions of travel, noting his reaction to the idea of leaving or arriving, to hurry and delay, what it means to dread a place you’ve never been to or to encounter the actuality of a long-held vision. Poet Lavinia Greenlaw draws out these questions as she follows in the footprints of Morris’ prose, responding to its surfaces and undercurrents, extending its horizons. The result is a new and composite work, which brilliantly explores our conflicted reasons for not staying at home. Chaired by William Sieghart.
Brave, intelligent and deeply controversial, the award-winning author of A Rift in Time, Occupation Diaries, Language of War ~ Language of Peace and Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape explores the devastating effect of Occupation on even the most intimate aspects of life. Looking back over decades of political turmoil, Shehadeh traces the impact on the fragile bonds of friendship across the Israel-Palestine border, and asks whether those considered bitter enemies can come together to forge a common future.