Stand-up comedian, activist and presenter David Baddiel isn’t afraid of a big question, and his latest book – The God Desire – asks one of the biggest: does God exist? Despite a lifetime of fantasising about the existence of God, Baddiel has concluded that it’s that very desire that proves God’s non-existence. With openness and vulnerability, Baddiel – whose career also includes writing novels for adults and children – contributes to one of the most ancient of debates with his trademark wit, honesty and humour.
One of the UK’s best-known poets and storytellers, Michael Rosen caught Covid-19 towards the beginning of the pandemic, becoming seriously ill and being placed in a coma by doctors so he could get better. Join him in conversation with Rachel Clarke as he discusses his new memoir Getting Better, the follow-up to 2021’s Many Different Kinds of Love, in which explores the role of trauma, asks how it’s possible to live well again after a tragedy such as a chronic illness or the loss of a loved one and ponders what it means to be recovered. Rosen, a former children’s laureate, is the author of more than 140 books. Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor and author of Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic.
Musician and writer Nick Cave and journalist Seán O’Hagan discuss their book, Faith, Hope and Carnage. Drawing on more than 40 hours of conversations between Cave and O’Hagan, the book takes readers from Cave’s early childhood to the present day, through his loves, his work ethic and his dramatic transformation in recent years, and examines questions of faith, art, music, freedom, grief and love. This is an inspiring and hopeful conversation, and a rare chance to hear directly from a creative visionary.
Brown, a Reader in religion and global security at the University of Birmingham and author of Gender, Religion, Extremism, argues that the distinction between victim and perpetrator is always harmful and misplaced in the cases of children raised in terrorist environments, and ultimately damaging to the most vulnerable. Asserting that there is no such thing as a ‘child terrorist’, Brown presents a case for the repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation of all children currently trapped in Iraq and Syria, and offers solutions for how we can begin to create secure and safe futures for them and for wider society.
What would we think if we saw the wonderful things around us without our cultural filters? And how would we behave? In Do Not Call The Tortoise our own Festival Bookseller, Gareth Howell-Jones, explores these questions with essays on ignorance, Darwin, Coleridge, cats and even, rather daringly, the meaning of life. He discovers a radical, fresh perspective called STA, an attempt to see the wonders around us without our cultural preconceptions. “I am a great believer in STA. It is more than a book and has enriched my life deeply” – Max Porter. Gareth will be talking to Horatio Clare, author of Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing and The Light in the Dark.
There is one question that Butler-Gallie is asked regularly: “What made you become a priest?” Talking to journalist and editor Alex Clark about his irreverent memoir Touching Cloth: A Year in the Life of a Young Priest, he reveals what it’s like to become a young priest in the 21st century, correcting misconceptions about his vocation with humour and a light touch. From sharing stories about unusual problems with parishioners to how to keep a straight face when someone is inadvertently hot-boxing a funeral, Butler-Gaillie’s book is also a love letter to the Church of England and to the community of people who keep it going.
Philosopher Julian Baggini, author of How to Think Like a Philosopher, talks to writer and translator Daniel Hahn about conveying big ideas, the importance of broadening audiences for big subjects and the value of simplicity while also holding on to complexity. He uses everyday examples and contemporary political concerns – from climate change to implicit bias – to explore the techniques, methods and principles that guide philosophy, and how they can be applied to our own lives, proving that philosophical thought can promote incisive thinking.
Acclaimed theoretical physicist and science writer Lawrence M Krauss, in conversation with philosopher AC Grayling, tackles five fundamental mysteries at the forefront of science today: time, space, matter, life, and consciousness. He speaks about the big questions that will shape the state of science for the decades ahead, and why exploring the mysteries that define the scientific forefront – known as the threshold of the unknown – will help us gain a deeper understanding of just how far science has progressed. As well as The Known Unknowns: The Unsolved Mysteries of the Cosmos, Krauss’s books include The Physics of Star Trek and The Physics of Climate Change, and he hosts The Origins podcast.
They go almost unnoticed if you visit a church, but church kneelers are essential, and have a long and storied history. Elizabeth Bingham, the leading authority on Anglican church kneelers, celebrates the design and craft of the cushions and delves into their history, from their beginnings at Winchester in the 1930s to their booming popularity after the Queen's coronation, to the present-day congregations who are keeping the tradition alive. She talks to novelist Kate Mosse.