The Readers – Episode Six

We have an additional extended ‘Manchester Literature Festival Special’ episode of The Readers which we are sneaking in for you this week. Simon has spent a lot of the last few weeks whizzing round the festival to report back on events starring (and where possible interviewing them afterwards) the likes of Colm Toibin, Alan Hollinghurst, Sarah Dunant, Patricia Duncker, Catherine O’Flynn, Kishwar Desai , KO Dahl and many more.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

Welcome to the Manchester Literature Festival (0.17) we discuss the joys of festivals in general, after reminding you all we are on iTunes, before Gav starts grilling Simon on where he went. His first port of call was the opening night and seeing Colm Toibin and Alan Hollinghurst in conversation (2.19) where they discussed homosexuality in literature and what inspired them to write. Simon managed to sneakily record part of the discussion.

Next up, Emma Jane Unsworth and Jon Niven (7.07) were in conversation and discussed comedy in books and how hard it is for them to be pigeon holed by publicity and marketing departments. Simon comes away reading one of the author’s books and desperate to get hold of the other authors, just what a festival should do. Gav has something to say on it all too and Emma will be joining us for another podcast on books with humour in the future.

Before she got on stage in the first of the two South Asian Literature events with Tahmima Anam with Claire Armistead hosting, Simon interviewed Dipika Rai (9.31) in the gothic wonder of Manchester’s town hall to talk about Indian Literature, the voice of women in Indian fiction, technology in publishing and how it can benefit authors and book groups as well as her debut novel ‘Someone Else’s Garden’.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

The second of the South Asian Literature Events (25.45) saw two very different authors, Moni Mohsin and Kishwar Desai, look at the current concerns in their countries and their cultures and how they have used the genres of comedy and crime in order to address them. Simon then meets up to interview Kishwar Desai (26.59) in Manchester’s bustling Piccadilly Station the next day to talk about this and her award winning debut novel ‘Witness the Night’ in more detail its diverse nature with the subject of gendercide as well as her menopausal crime solver.

Something completely different next as Simon took Granny Savidge Reads to see and adaptation of Sarah Dunant’s ‘Sacred Hearts’ in Manchester Cathedral (50.20) with a full blown choir in the form of Musica Secreta. It proved a moving experience.

Photograph by Ed Swinden.

Crime in a Cold Climate (53.26) was a special night of Nordic Crime, well discussing it, with Thomas Enger, KO Dahl and Yrsa Sigardurdottir. Simon then caught up with Thomas and KO (or Shell) afterwards for a chat (55.04) about all things Nordic and why this crime wave has become so popular and so graphic. Oh and before you think we are being sexist, the lovely – and frankly hilarious – Yrsa will be in a ‘chilly and chilling’ episode of The Readers in the future.

Photograph by Jon Atkin

As a chair, co-founder and judge of a prize himself Simon went to the Prize Culture evening (1.04.55) on the eve of the Man Booker and got more than he bargained for when the panel started discussing all things prize based and then started talking about book bloggers, uh-oh…

Photograph by Jon Atkin.

Afternoon Tea With Patricia Duncker (1.08.09) was an event to celebrate Patricia Duncker’s special short story set in the Midland Hotel as part of the festival. Simon then had more afternoon tea with Patricia Duncker (1.09.10) to discuss the story and her latest novel ‘The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge’ and the cult novel ‘Hallucinating Foucault’ as well as those books you think are written just for you.

It was an exciting final author meeting for Simon as he got to meet Catherine O’Flynn (1.18.58) who he thinks might be the next Kate Atkinson, to talk about her word of mouth debut success ‘What Was Lost’, its TV Book Club chosen follow up ‘The News Where You Are’ and how being a writer isn’t a be all and end all career.

Finally, Simon reveals how he and his team faired at the last event the Literary Quiz (1.27.10) how do you think he did?

And that is it… A rather MASSIVE thanks (1.28.20) to all at the Manchester Literature Festival who let Simon in to the events and behind the scenes, he had an amazing time! You can find out about all the events on their blog – which is also where we pilfered the pictures for this post.

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