Happy, Healthy, Home? – Balham Literary Festival 2017 programme announced

Thomasina Miers, Henry Marsh, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Kathryn Williams, Sabrina Mahfouz, Jeremy Harding and many more to appear 8 -11 June

Balham Literary Festival returns this year with a striking line-up of speakers, including founder of Wahaca and 2005 MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers, distinguished neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, former ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock, and Mercury-nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams. “Happy, Healthy, Home?” is this year’s theme, and the Festival’s topical programme will explore modern living both at home and abroad. All events will take place at The Bedford pub, an historic landmark of London’s nightlife, where there will be a pop-up bookshop throughout the weekend run by Festival organisers Dulwich Books.

“This summer we turn our gaze to the concept of home. How do we create a space - both within and without - that will nurture us and enable us to thrive, rather than simply to survive? What happens when that space is threatened by war, displacement, colonisation, annexation? Without a sense of ease, or with disease, how can we achieve the peace that a successful home offers?

“We’ll look at mental and physical health, life-enhancing activities like eating, swimming and singing, present events for children and even prescribe books to make you feel better. Enjoy a warm welcome, music and poetry, browse our pop-up bookshop and relax in the cosy, shabby chic atmosphere of The Bedford, a legendary venue and a home from home for all Balhamites.”
— Susie Nicklin, owner of Dulwich Books

The broad scope of this year’s Festival programme will offer a variety of approaches for healthy, proactive and fulfilling living. Thomasina Miers will talk about her distinguished career, and her fuss-free style of home cooking as presented in her new book Home Cook. Alexandra Heminsley and Jenny Landreth will extol the healing and liberation they have found in swimming. Henry Marsh will look back at his life in brain surgery, Jay Griffiths will unpick manic depression and the pilgrimage to Spain it sent her on, and Susan Elderkin, author of The Novel Cure, will prescribe literary remedies at her afternoon tea to audience members who have submitted their dilemmas by email ahead of the event.

As the dust settles from the general election, the Festival will seek a broader political perspective, and will venture into questions of nation-building, national boundaries, and international relations. Sir Jeremy Greenstock will discuss with the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour his incendiary insider’s account of Britain’s role in the Iraq War, which was banned from publication by Jack Straw in 2005. Balham is hosting The Palestinian Festival of Literature (Palfest), which this year has four outstanding writers – Jeremy Harding, Rachel Holmes, Sabrina Mahfouz, and Ahdaf Soueif – who have contributed to a powerful new anthology, This Is Not a Border. And Joshua Jelly-Schapiro will explore the cultural and ethnic histories of borderlands and contested islands with Kapka Kassabova and Jan Rüger.

Families will feature prominently in this year’s Festival programme, with an outstanding event bringing together Howard Cunnell, Jonathan Dean and Ed Docx to discuss fatherhood explored through their fictional and real-life accounts of fathers and sons. Docx’s newly published Let Go My Hand is set to be one of this year’s outstanding novels, while Cunnell’s moving memoir explores masculinity and family through his experience having an absent father, and as a father whose daughter became his son. Dean’s account of multi-generational family migration will speak to the challenges modern families face. And specifically for children, there are events with Jane Clarke’s chameleon creation Neon Leon, and Sarah Driver, author of The Huntress: Sea, the first book in a brand new seafaring fantasy adventure trilogy.

The Festival will pay tribute to The Bedford’s infamous history as the site of a Victorian murder trial with a blockbuster line-up of crime fiction authors (Angela Clarke, Annemarie Neary and Anna Mazzola), and celebrate its legendary reputation as the springboard for artists such as Ed Sheeran, The Clash and U2 with an evening of songs by Mercury Prize nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams.

For tickets and further information, visit https://balhamliteraryfestival.co.uk/