This week, as we celebrate the power of books and rediscover the joy of reading during Book Week NI and Irish Book Week, Belfast International Arts Festival highlights its upcoming programme of literary events featuring some of the most critically acclaimed local, national and international writers and poets.
The 58th annual festival officially opened on Monday 12th October with an imaginative and inspirational programme for the times we live in.
It runs until Sunday 1st November and this weekend the festival will kick off a series of online discussions with the authors behind the very best and latest fiction and non-fiction works. Events include:
Stuart Maconie – The Nanny State Made Me (Friday 23)
Veteran broadcaster Stuart Maconie discusses his new book The Nanny State Made Me: A Story of Britain and How to Save It, in which he tells the story of Britain’s welfare state through his own history of growing up as a northern working class boy.
Kevin Maxwell and Nazir Afzal – Law, Race and Equality (Saturday 24)
In this discussion about law, race, prejudice and equality with Kevin Maxwell, a former police detective discusses his book Forced Out: A Black Gay Detective’s Story of Prejudice and Resilience, which offers a powerful and sobering look inside the British police force. Nazir Afzal, ex-Chief Crown Prosecutor, will discuss his book The Prosecutor: One Man’s Pursuit of Justice for the Voiceless, in which shows us how his childhood in 1960s Birmingham facing racist violence set him on the path to his groundbreaking career at the forefront of the British justice system.
Patrick Freyne – OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea (Saturday 24)
One of Ireland’s funniest writers, Patrick Freyne, will give us the benefit of the wit and wisdom in his new book of essays, OK, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea.
Helen Lewis – Difficult Women (Saturday 24)
Well-behaved women don’t make history, difficult women do. Writer Helen Lewis explores how feminism’s success has been down to complicated, contradictory, imperfect women in her book Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights.
Elaine Feeney and Daisy Johnson (Sunday 25)
Two of our finest fiction writers come together to tell us about their acclaimed new novels, each one shocking, vital and explosive. Author Elaine Feeney will discuss her debut novel As You Were, while Daisy Johnson, fresh from the success of her Booker-shortlisted debut Everything Under will discuss her second novel Sisters.
Jenni Murray – Fat Cow, Fat Chance (Sunday 25)
One of the nation’s best-loved broadcasters joins the festival to discuss her new book about our relationship with food and weight.
Robert Webb – Come Again (Sunday 25)
Writer, actor and comedian Robert Webb will discuss his debut novel, Come Again, his writing and acting work, how he now sees writing as his main job, and his near-death experience that chimed eerily with the book.
Colette Bryce and Nick Laird (Friday 30)
Two of Northern Ireland’s finest poets join host Peggy Hughes to read from and discuss their latest collections, Colette Bryce’s The M Pages and Nick Laird’s Feel Free.
Lennie Goodings – A Bite of the Apple (Saturday 31)
Chair of groundbreaking feminist publisher Virago Books, Lennie Goodings, who has worked with many of the finest writers of the last half-century, including Angela Carter, Maya Angelou, Marilynne Robinson and Margaret Atwood, will offer an entertaining and enlightening insight into the life of a literary editor.
Bryan Washington and Paul Mendez (Saturday 31)
Two debut writers join forces to discuss race and sexuality from different cultural perspectives in Bryan Washington’s Lot and Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez.
Sebastian Barry and Sarah Moss (Saturday 31)
Festival favourite Sebastian Barry joins multi-award-winning novelist Sarah Moss at an event hosted by Rebecca Mairs discussing their highly anticipated new fiction, A Thousand Moons and Summerwater.
Scholastique Mukasonga and Nina Bouraoui (Sunday 1)
Two of France’s greatest living writers talk about their work and inspiration in this event in association with the Institut Français.
Jenny Offill – Weather (Sunday 1)
Donald Trump and the climate crisis are the twin emergencies driving the funny, fierce and universally acclaimed new novel Weather by Jenny Offill, one of America’s most highly regarded writers.
Sarah Churchwell & Michell Chresfield – US Pre-election Discussion (Sunday 1)
Two British-American experts on US history, civil rights and politics come together to discuss what brought us to the 2020 US election – and where we go from here.
For more information about Belfast International Arts Festival and to book, visit belfastinternationalartsfestival.com. Each of these events will be hosted online for free, but donations are welcome.