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LitFest 2017: when Marlborough hosts a great and varied host of writers


Okay - on your marks - it's very nearly time for the eight-year-old event that is 2017's Marlborough LitFest: "My, how you've grown!"  There are thirty-five featured writers and events.

For we have previewed quite a few writers and events, but we felt that many of this year's LitFesters have been a bit left out.  So here is a sort of speed-dating roundup of who else to catch - why, where and when - and not just at the LitFest café in the Town Hall:

Dadland by Keggie Carew (left) is a moving account of her maverick father’s exploits in the Second World War as an officer with SOE - the Special Operations Executive which was sometimes known as 'The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare'.  Men and women who were, in Churchill's reported words, sent into Nazi occupied countries to 'set Europe ablaze'.
Dadland won the Costa Award for Best Biography in 2016.  She will be at the Town Hall on Saturday 30 September - 12 noon (Tickets £10.)

When Sarah Hall (right) burst onto the scene she was soon included in Granta’s list of the 20 best young writers of the decade.   Sarah Hall’s stories usually focus on a mix between nature and urban life as well as embracing themes of gender and sex. The novelist and poet will talk about her latest collection of short stories, Madame Zero.

Sarah Hall is currently a member of the 2017 Man Booker Prize judging panel.  The panel caused some consternation when they whittled the long list down to the short list.  Perhaps that's something to ask her about on Saturday 30 September, 6pm, The White Horse Bookshop (Tickets £10)

John Boyne is best known for his bestselling novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, on which the very well known and admired film was based. The novelist and short story writer appears at this year’s Festival to talk about his latest book, The Heart’s Invisible Furies. It is his second novel about Ireland - and centres on local reactions to a teenage pregnancy.   Catch him on Sunday 1 October, 12 noon, at the Town Hall (Tickets £10)

Francesca Simon: Parents who have not yet caught up with their children's attachment to Horrid Henry should be at the Town Hall on Sunday, 1 October at 3pm (Tickets £5) to meet Henry's 'parent'.

Universally renowned for her phenomenally popular Horrid Henry series (the books and CDs have sold over 20 million copies in the UK alone and are published in 27 countries), in December 2016 Francesca Simon published her first novel for older children and young teens.  Titled The Monstrous Child, it is a teen rant on an epic scale based on the myth of Hel, Queen of the Norse Underworld.

Shortlisted for the Costa Book Award 2016, this book is a darkly funny look at life through the eyes of teenage Hel, as she tries to overcome her dysfunctional family.  It is a startling combination of an authentic adolescent voice with Norse mythology.

Specially for Children:  Marlborough LitFest aims to encourage a love of reading in children and young adults and there will be a comprehensive children’s programme of events for 2017, including educational workshops for local primary schools, an annual Big School Read event with local secondary schools and back by popular demand – free Storytelling for the Under 5’s and Under 8’s at Marlborough Library and The White Horse Bookshop.

Nikesh Shukla (left) with Coco Khan - writer and novelist Nikesh Shukla has collected and edited a new book of essays by 21 British writers of colour, discussing race and immigration in the UK. He will be talking about The Good Immigrant with Coco Khan – Guardian columnist and one of the book's contributors. Another of the contributing writers to The Good Immigrant is rising star, British actor and recent Emmy Award winner, Riz Ahmed.   Sunday 1 October, 4.30pm, The White Horse Bookshop (Tickets £10)

Kamila Shamsie (right) now lives mainly in London - but she is known as one of Pakistan's most prolific novelists. Her latest book - Home Fire - has brought her wide attention with interviews and articles.  Using Antigone as a thread, the book tells the very timely story of a family ripped apart by secrets and driven to pit love against loyalty.

One reviewer wrote: "Shamsie expertly distils a vast socio-political landscape into human bodies. In dissecting these, she offers tidbits of street reality to the literary establishment."  And along the way there is a critique of media bias.
She will be at the Town Hall at 4.30pm on Saturday, 30 September. (Tickets £10)

Tim Marshall will be a recognisable to watchers of Sky News - he was their highly respected Diplomatic Editor.  He now analyses international politics on his Foreign Matters blog.  

His latest book Worth Dying for: The Power & Politics of Flags has come to the attention of the New Yorker magazine whose reviewer liked 'this entertaining survey of vexillology, the study of flags, [examining] the banners of more than eighty-five nations...fluttering symbols of collective identity...[that] continue to both unite groups and divide the world."   For the American market the title has been shrunk to A Flag Worth Dying For.  

He will be talking about his book - and probably about his blog - in the Town hall at 1.30pm on Sunday, 1 October. (Tickets £10)


And we must not forget the Marlborough area's local literary talent:

Marlborough resident Vanessa Lafaye will be talking about her latest book At First Light at the White Horse Bookshop on Sunday, 1 October at 10.30am - Tickets £10.)  It is her second novel and it is set in the Florida Keys - once home to a fierce and terrible racism and recently ravaged by Hurricane Irma.

And JS Monroe - aka former journalist Jon Stock - will be telling us about his latest book Find MeThis novel revolves around the sighting of a long-dead girlfriend...will there have to be a 'spoiler alert' when he talks at the White Horse Bookshop at 12 noon on Sunday, 1 October? (Tickets £10)

The full LitFest programme can be viewed online - where you can read the whole brochure - or you can pick up a paper version at The White Horse Bookshop - hurry, while stocks last.

Tickets can be booked online using the LitFest link on' main page  - or by phone 01249 701628 - or in person at the White Horse Bookshop (cash & cheques only)

These photos above are copyright:  Kamila Shamsie copyright Zain Mustafa.  Francesca Simon copyright Helen Giles.  And JS Monroe copyright Hilary Stock.

Brewin Dolphin are the lead sponsor for Marlborough LitFest 2017.


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