well read - Bath Literature Festival
Written by Karen Martin
Bath Literature Festival, held from Friday February 25 to Sunday March 6, is one of the UK’s most important literary events, where internationally known writers, novelists, poets, and journalists gather to share their passion with fellow bibliophiles.
The festival offers an intensive nine-day programme of events, featuring fascinating literary specialists discussing ideas with fellow experts and enthusiastic audiences. In the words of the festival organisers, “The joys of reading, writing, and discussion are attacked, devoured, and hungrily digested by the throngs of lit-fans who trek to this ever-popular book festival.”
Combining the best contemporary fiction with intelligent debate, dramatic performance, history, science, poetry, politics, music, art, and architecture, the 2011 festival has attracted the talents of the world’s most prolific writers, including 2010 Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson, alongside Dr. David Starkey, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alexander McCall Smith, Helen Dunmore, Andrea Levy, Louis de Bernières, Howard Marks, Bettany Hughes, and the 2011 Big Bath Read author Aminatta Forna.
The festival’s artistic director James Runcie says, “Each event features some of the most talented and inspiring people we know; and every single one is part of a continuing conversation about what life is all about. The overall aim is simple: to encourage audiences to feel glad to be alive, fully engaged with the thoughts and ideas that matter.”
Introducing new elements together with popular aspects from 2010, the next festival will begin with ‘Voices in the City’, a day of free events held on Friday February 25 to celebrate the spoken word. The day will include the Bath Poetry Café residency at Bath Central Library, a poetry pub crawl, a haiku flash-mob, storytelling, music, and more.
Each following day of the festival will then commence with a compelling ‘Morning Talk’ featuring the likes of English Heritage’s CEO Dr. Simon Thurley, entertaining historian Amanda Vickery, and the presenter of the BBC’s The Power of Maps TV series, Professor Jerry Brotton.
With his eight internationally acclaimed crime novels featuring Detective Harry Hole, Jo Nesbø has achieved unparalleled success both in his native country Norway and abroad, winning the hearts of critics, booksellers, and readers alike. Translated into 30 languages, attracting a whole range of awards and record-breaking sales, Nesbø has been lavishly praised by international critics for broadening the scope of the contemporary crime novel, and is today regarded as one of Europe’s most important crime writers.
A Japanese-English novelist, Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and his family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kent in 1978 and his master’s from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing course in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982. Ishiguro is one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors in the English-speaking world, having received four Man Booker Prize nominations, going on to win the 1989 prize for his novel The Remains of the Day. In 2008, The Times named Ishiguro among its list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’. Recently, his novel Never Let Me Go has been adapted to film.
Crown and Country: A History of England through the Monarchy
The monarchy is one of Britain’s longest surviving institutions – as well as one of its most tumultuous and revered. In this masterful book, David Starkey looks at the monarchy as a whole, charting its history from Roman times, to the Wars of the Roses, the chaos of the Civil War, the fall of Charles I and Cromwell’s emergence as Lord Protector – all the way up until the Victorian era when Britain’s monarchs came face-to-face with modernity. This brilliant collection of biographies of Britain’s kings and queens provides an in-depth examination of what the British monarchy has meant, what it means now, and what it will continue to mean. Bringing to life a cast of colourful characters, Starkey offers a vivid portrait of British culture, politics, and nationhood through an institution that has defined the realm for nearly 2,000 years.
The Finkler Question
Walking home, Julian Treslove – a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer – hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, when he is attacked. After this, his whole sense of who and what he is slowly and ineluctably changes. The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity.
The Importance of Being Seven: a 44 Scotland Street novel
Despite inhabiting a great city renowned for its impeccable restraint, the extended family of 44 Scotland Street is trembling on the brink of reckless self-indulgence. But when Bertie Pollock – six years old and impatient to be seven – mislays his meddling mother, Irene, one afternoon, a valuable lesson is learned: that wish-fulfilment is a dangerous business. Warm-hearted, wise, and very funny.
We Need to Talk About Kelvin: What everyday things tell us about the universe
The author of Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You takes familiar features of the world we know and shows how they can be used to explain profound truths about the ultimate nature of reality. With the aid of a falling leaf, or a rose, or a starry night sky, Chown makes cutting-edge science clear and meaningful.
The Last Weekend
Set over a long weekend in East Anglia, this is the chilling story of a friendship overlaid with rivalry. It opens with a surprise phone call from an old university friend, inviting Ian and his wife, Em, for a few days by the sea. Their hosts, Ollie and Daisy, are a golden couple, and the scene is set for sunlit relaxation. But dangerous tensions quickly emerge.
Battle and burial are built into the history of Lansdown Hill, so it is no great shock when part of a skeleton is unearthed there. But Peter Diamond, Bath’s Head of CID, can’t ignore the fresh corpse found close to the folly known as Beckford’s Tower. The hill becomes the setting for one of the most puzzling cases he has investigated, involving golf, horseracing, Civil War re-enactment, and the Cyrillic alphabet.
Coffee Table Book
Bath: City on Show
Contrasting a World Heritage city as depicted over several hundred years with how it is seen through the lens today, talented local photographers have worked in all seasons developing a stunning portfolio of new and original views of Bath’s most notable locations. These are presented with a pick of classic images of the city from the extensive archives of Bath in Time. From the Roman Baths of 2,000 years ago to the 21st-century Thermae Bath Spa, via Georgian splendour and architectural grandeur, Bath has evolved to meet the changing needs and tastes of its residents and visitors. This book is a compelling and powerful reminder of past times with a fresh and revealing look at life today.
February 27–March 6, 1pm
February 28, 8–9pm
March 4, 6.15pm–7.15pm
March 6, 2.45–3.45pm