A conversation with the winner of the 2015 prize. Chair of judges, Bill Bryson: 'Marion Coutts' account of living with her husband's illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed. Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world – it stays with you for a long time after.'
In 2008 the art critic Tom Lubbock was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The tumour was located in the area controlling speech and language, and would eventually rob him of the ability to speak. He died early in 2011. Marion Coutts was his wife. In short bursts of beautiful, textured prose, Coutts describes the eighteen months leading up to her partner's death. This book is an account of a family unit, man, woman, young child, under assault, and how the three of them fought to keep it intact. Written with extraordinary narrative force and power, The Iceberg is almost shocking in its rawness. It charts the deterioration of Tom's speech even as it records the developing language of his child. Fury, selfishness, grief, indignity and impotence are all examined and brought to light. Yet out of this comes a rare story about belonging, an 'adventure of being and dying'. This book is a celebration of each other, friends, family, art, work, love and language.
In the early 1880s the Mahdi unleashed a spectacularly successful jihadist uprising against Egyptian colonial rule in the Sudan. Major General Charles Gordon was despatched to evacuate Khartoum and turn the Sudan over to self-rule. The mission backfired and Sir Garnet Wolseley was sent to relieve him…
A performed reading of the play about Wilfred Owen, who died in action on 4 November 1918 having written some of the greatest war poetry in the English language. The play is edited from Owen’s poems and letters and tells his story from the outbreak of war when he was teaching in provincial France. Owen joins up and is drafted straight into the realities of trench warfare on the frontline; he is invalided back to hospital in Edinburgh where he meets Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon before returning to his men in France, where he wins the Military Cross. Owen’s writing was savagely critical of church and state, and hugely compassionate towards the soldiers sacrificing their lives: ‘All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the poet must be truthful.’
Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare white elephant destined for the palace menagerie… The Turkish author of The Forty Rules of Love and Honour discusses her mesmerizing new novel with William Sieghart.
An astonishing insight into the life of a humanitarian psychiatrist working in war and disaster zones around the world from Bosnia and ‘mission-accomplished’ Iraq, to tsunami-affected Aceh, post-earthquake Haiti and ‘the Jungle’ in Calais. Chaired by Oliver Balch.
A beautifully weighted memoir of political success and failure from the son of an Earl, who after Eton and Oxford found himself in cabinet and at the heart of Margaret Thatcher’s government. Just as his star was in the ascent, Waldegrave became embroiled in a scandal that tarnished his reputation but could not dampen his voracious enthusiasm for the political game.
In the last two years Chris’ travels have taken him from Azerbaijan to Bolivia and Zimbabwe. He brings to life the romance of travelling by train, and the sights, sounds and smells of the countries and places visited. Chaired by Oliver Balch.
Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri, author of The Famished Road, Astonishing the Gods and The Age of Magic, reads from his recent work and talks to Sean Rocks, presenter of Arena on RTÉ Radio 1.
Photo by Daniel Mordzinski
Kells native Brendan, a finalist in 2012’s Great British Bake Off, has been passionate about baking for 30 years. Join him as he demonstrates some of the skills that took him to the final and talks to Fáilte Ireland Food Champion Olivia Duff about his plans to take baking into retirement homes.
For more information & recipes go to www.brendanbakes.co.uk
'As much as anything, World War I turned on the fate of Ukraine...' The decision to go to war in 1914 had catastrophic consequences for Russia. The result was revolution, civil war and famine in 1917–20, followed by decades of Communist rule. Dominic Lieven explains why this suicidal decision was made and explores the world of the men who made it. But by looking at the origins and results of the First World War from a mostly Russian angle he also offers a radically different view of why Europe descended into disaster, overturning assumptions about the war's causes and consequences in a way that still has major implications for world history down to the present day. Chaired by Oliver Bullough.
Ever wondered how robots work, what they do and why we even have them? Join the Science Museum as they take you on an amazing interactive journey into the world of robots. Discover how we program them, how they’re engineered and which is better – robot technology or human biology. This exciting and engaging science show features incredible live robot demonstrations and experiments that will blow your circuits.
The academic presents his annotated edition of FR Leavis’ famous critique of CP Snow’s theory of the ‘two cultures’ of arts and sciences. Collini describes what was at stake in the dispute, reappraises its literary tactics and evaluates the purpose of Leavis’ brand of cultural criticism.
Baxter’s drawings are a delicious stew of pulp adventure novels, highbrow jinks, and outright absurdity: lonesome cowboys confront the latest in modern art, brave men tremble before moussaka, schoolgirls hoard hashish, and the world’s fruits are in constant peril. Wimples abound. The artist talks to John Mitchinson.
Presenter Paddy O’Connell talks about life behind the scenes at the BBC and programme-making. Plus he’ll give the audience a chance to contribute and influence the running orders of future editions of Broadcasting House.
Not for broadcast.
The winner of the 2013 Planeta Prize recreates in her novel El cielo ha vuelto something that underlies all her work: reality and personal relations, where the characters are taken to the limit, and where the people closest to us can hurt us most.
A pandemic called ‘The Sweats’ is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. Welsh introduces A Lovely Way To Burn, the first outbreak in her Plague Times trilogy. Hannah reveals The Telling Error, the latest in her Culver Valley Crime series of novels.