The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse. In a world ruled by gods and men, the voices of strong women have been silenced. Until now. An ancient story of love and sisterhood, Elektra is a spellbinding reimagining of Greek myth with a fresh perspective on the Trojan War. Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year.
Torrey Peters’ Womens Prize-longlisted debut novel is a uniquely trans take on love, exes and motherhood. Reese nearly had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she didn’t hate. She’d scraped together a life previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child.
Then everything fell apart and three years on Reese is still in self-destruct mode, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men. When her ex calls to ask if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds herself intrigued. After being attacked in the street, Amy detransitioned to become Ames, changed jobs and, thinking he was infertile, started an affair with his boss Katrina. Now Katrina’s pregnant. Could the three of them form an unconventional family – and raise the baby together? She talks to the author of This Lovely City, Louise Hare.
Anthony Horowitz pulls the trigger on his new James Bond novel on its publication day. With a Mind to Kill opens with M’s funeral. One man is missing from the graveside: the traitor who is now in custody, accused of M’s murder – James Bond. Behind the Iron Curtain, a group of former Smersh agents want to use the British spy in an operation that will change the balance of world power. Bond is smuggled into the lion’s den – but whose orders is he following, and will he obey them when the moment of truth arrives? In a mission where treachery is all around and one false move means death, Bond must grapple with the darkest questions about himself. But not even he knows what has happened to the man he used to be.
Anthony Horowitz is the only author in recent years to have been invited by Ian Fleming Publications to write successive, official James Bond novels. In 2015 he published Trigger Mortis, continuing with Forever and a Day in 2018. Both were critically acclaimed bestsellers, and With a Mind To Kill completes Horowitz’s trilogy of original 007 novels.
Julie Owen Moylan’s debut novel That Green Eyed Girl, set between the 1950s and 1970s, is an evocative page-turner about jealousy, loyalty and the secrets we keep to protect those we love. Drawn to women’s history, she tells the stories of complicated people at complicated times – those who don’t conform to social pressures. Mental health, sexuality, infatuation, first love and first heartbreak – above all it’s about a very human need to connect with people and be understood. Author Louise Hare’s debut novel This Lovely City was published in 2020.
Supported by Hawthornden Literary Retreat
MacManus, aka DJ and broadcaster Annie Mac, discusses her new direction – a writing debut. A powerful coming of age novel and an intimate family study, Mother Mother examines the cost of unconditional love.
Mary McConnell grew up longing for information about the mother she never knew – who died suddenly when Mary was only a baby. Her brother Sean was barely old enough to remember, and their father numbed his pain with drink. Now thirty-five years old, Mary has lived in the same house her whole life. She’s never left Belfast. She has a son, TJ, who’s about to turn eighteen, and is itching to see more of the world. One Saturday morning, TJ wakes up to find his mother gone. He doesn’t know where – or why – but he’s the only one who can help find her.
Mother Mother takes us down the challenging road of Mary’s life, while following Joe’s increasingly desperate search for his mother, as he begins to understand what has led her to this point.
Melvyn Bragg revisits and reflects on his life from childhood to adulthood in the Cumbrian market town of Wigton, from the early years alone with his mother while his father fought in the war to the moment he left the town. It’s the tale of a working-class boy who grew up in a pub and expected to leave school at 15; who happily roamed the streets and raided orchards with his friends yet had a chronic breakdown when he was 13, forcing him to find new survival strategies; who was deeply embedded in a close-knit community, and experiencing the joys of first love, yet also found himself drawn to a mentor keen to steer him towards the challenge of an Oxford scholarship.
It’s equally the tale of the place that formed him and a compelling and poignant recreation of a vanished era: an elegy for a community-spirited northern town with its factories and churches and chapels steeped in the old ways, but on the cusp of rapid post-war change; and a celebration of the glorious Lakeland landscapes which inspired Bragg from an early age. This love letter to his home town and the people who shaped him is imbued with all the luminous wonder of those indelible early memories which nurtured his future life as a writer, broadcaster, and champion of the arts.
The author of the bestselling, Booker Prize-shortlisted phenomenon We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves discusses her brilliant new historical novel, Booth. In 1822, the Booth family move into a secret cabin near Baltimore to farm; to hide. Junius – breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways – is at once a mesmerising talent and a man of terrifying instability.
The Booths cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families, but behind the curtains multiple scandals, family triumphs and disasters begin to take their toll. But it is Johnny who makes the terrible decision that will change the course of history – the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
All Walls Collapse brings together newly commissioned fiction in translation by twelve acclaimed writers from across the world, exploring the walls and borders that have sought to divide communities and nations, and their effects on people’s lives and histories.
From the Berlin Wall to the fences of Uyghur internment camps in Xinjiang, the US–Mexico border to the edge of the ‘Fortress of Europe’, and the barbed wire of the Korean Demilitarised Zone to the fences erected to hide Rio’s favelas before the 2016 Olympics, this groundbreaking collection of short stories examines our relationship to walls, both real and perceived.
Krisztina Tóth is a highly acclaimed Hungarian poet and Geetajali Shree is a Hindi author longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022.
Born and raised in Zanzibar, Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent. He is author of nine novels, including Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), By the Sea (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the LA Times Book Award) and Desertion.
In 2021 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his uncompromising work on the effects of colonialism between cultures and continents. He talks to journalist Max Liu about his work, in particular his recent book Afterlives, a compelling historical novel focused on those enduring German rule in East Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century.
There are categories of intimate writing which modern technology has rendered obsolete. Keats sealed his letters to his beloved with a kiss. Whoever did that to an email in the age of electronic Valentines? Who, nowadays, keeps a private written journal? It’s all up there in the cloudy Diary in the Sky. Until well into the 20th century young men and women carried ‘autograph books’ for sketches, verbal and pictorial, by friends. They now only exist as relics on eBay. Is intimate writing a dead letter – as obsolete as the quill pen? Not entirely. John Crace has revived the political sketch, diary and (highly personalised) critical ‘digest’.
John Sutherland has written intimate memoirs (one of which, his struggle with alcoholism, he regrets publishing). He recently met himself – sixty years younger – in his university tutor’s voluminous letters about him to Philip Larkin. It inspired his latest book, Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me.
The Two Johns discuss intimacy in public and personal writing – the difference between writing with one eye on publication and for oneself alone – and where, in an era of grams, selfies and tweeting it can go. And have fun while doing so.
Something gleeful and malevolent is moving in Lia’s body. It’s learning her life from the inside. It shape-shifts down the banks of her canals, leaks through her tissue, nooks and nodes. It taps her trachea like the bones of a xylophone. It’s spreading. When Lia finds out that her cancer is back, she tries to keep the landscapes of her past, her present and her body separate; for the sake of Iris, her daughter, and for her husband, Harry, desperate to keep their lives flourishing. But bodies are porous, unpredictable places… As Lia’s condition worsens, the narrator inside her strengthens; the boundaries between her past, her present and her body begin to leak and spill.
Maddie Mortimer’s accomplished debut novel is a story of coming-of-age at the end of a life. Utterly heartbreaking yet darkly funny, it’s a symphonic journey through one woman’s body: a wild and lyrical celebration of desire, forgiveness and the darkness within us all. She talks to Sarah Moss, Women's Prize-shortlisted author of Ghost Wall and Summerwater.
It’s 2010. Staggeringly successful and brilliant tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton is desperate for a new idea. He’s forty, with four kids, and restless when he stumbles into a conversation with mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or ‘externalising’ memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, Own Your Unconscious – that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others – has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.
Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling and extraordinarily moving, The Candy House is a bold imagining of a world that is moments away. Egan explores the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture and the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption.
Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster. But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin’s parents get to know Joe’s firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals. As Yasmin dismantles her own assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she’s also forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a ‘love marriage’ actually means.
Love Marriage is a story about who we are and how we love in today’s Britain – with all the complications and contradictions of life, desire, marriage and family. What starts as a captivating social comedy develops into a heartbreaking, gripping story of two cultures, two families and two people trying to understand one another.
In association with the British CouncilThis event will be available online
Debut novel Trespasses, set in 1970s Belfast, is an intimate portrait of those caught between the warring realms of the personal and political, rooted in a turbulent and brutal moment of history.
Cushla Lavery lives with her mother in a small town near Belfast, and works as a teacher. The daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploding, another man shot, killed, beaten or left for dead. Then she meets Michael Agnew, an older (and married) barrister who draws her into his sophisticated group of friends. As her affair with Michael intensifies, political tensions in the town escalate, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.
A special event in partnership with Untold’s Write Afghanistan project to launch My Pen Is The Wing Of A Bird: New Fiction by Afghan Women, the first anthology of short fiction in translation by Afghan women. Contributor Masouma Kawsari joins translator Zarghuna Kargar and Untold Narratives’ Founder and Director Lucy Hannah to discuss and perform extracts of these powerful, profound and deeply moving new pieces.
“These stories will expand your mind and elevate your heart” – Elif Shafak.
Deliciously sinister and engrossing, Day’s new novel is an atmospheric tale of motherhood, greed and obsession, placing a happy couple trying for a baby in the orbit of a woman who takes an unhealthy interest in their personal lives.
Elizabeth Day is author of four novels and a memoir, How to Fail (now a podcast). Her acclaimed debut Scissors, Paper, Stone won a Betty Trask Award and Home Fires was an Observer book of the year. Her third, Paradise City, was named one of the best novels of 2015 by the Evening Standard, and The Party was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. She is a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book and the Sky Arts Book Club.
A debut brimful of the music and movement of multicultural London, to stand beside White Teeth, Brick Lane and The Buddha of Suburbia. The stories in We Move are set in London, but chart a wider narrative about the movement of multiple generations of immigrants. In acts of startling imagination, Gurnaik Johal brings together the past and the present, the local and the global, to show the surprising ways we come together.
Beneath the planes circling Heathrow, various lives connect. Priti speaks English and her nani Punjabi. Without Priti’s mum around they struggle to make a shared language. Not far away, Chetan and Aanshi’s relationship shifts when a woman leaves her car in their drive but never returns to collect it. Gujan’s baba steps out of his flat above the chicken shop for the first time in years to take his grandson on a bicycle tour of the old and changed neighbourhood. And returning home after dropping out of university, Lata grapples with a secret about her estranged family friend, now a chart-topping rapper in a crisis of confidence.
Three prize-winning writers – Damon Galgut, Margo Jefferson and Jennifer Egan – discuss family drama, memory and redemption with Helen Lewis. Damon Galgut’s Booker-winning The Promise tells the story of a family and a country, and the failed promises that destroy them both. The promise of a super-connected world with memories as currency is set against the quest for privacy in Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. And Margo Jefferson examines every passion and influence in her new memoir, Constructing a Nervous System.
Damon Galgut’s 2021 Booker Prize-winning novel charts a country in transition and a family in crisis. On a farm outside Pretoria, the Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for – not least their treatment of the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. Salome was to be given her own house, her own land… yet somehow, that vow is carefully ignored. As each decade passes, and the family assemble again, one question hovers over them. Can you ever escape the repercussions of a broken promise?
Damon Galgut was shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice with The Good Doctor and In a Strange Room before winning in 2021 with The Promise.
In an information age where disinformation and silo-thinking are ever-present, the role of libraries as hubs for knowledge, reflection and community are more essential than ever. In this conversation Britain’s best-loved children’s book writer Michael Morpurgo, renowned author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and Polly Russell, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, reflect on the value of libraries and the continuing role these transformational spaces play within our societies.