Balham Literary Festival returns this June with a dazzling line-up to celebrate summer in the city. Under its theme - summer loving - the festival will welcome a hotpot of the world’s best food and fiction writers to south London for a month of great food and escapist reads featuring talks from Melissa Hemlsey, Tim Winton, Elif Shafak, Holly Bourne, Tessa Hadley, Hanan al-Shaykh, Antti Tuomainen and Michael Ondaatje. As the heat turns up on international politics and social activism continues to make waves, the festival will also invite writers AC Grayling, Tim Marshall and Zing Tseng to discuss the broader challenges facing democracy and global society.
Commenting on the Festival programme, Susie Nicklin, owner of Dulwich Books, said:
“Summer in the city can be a wonderful thing. Poised between half term and the liberation of the summer holidays, throughout June there’s a sense of expectation in the air. It’s a time to get away from screens and to participate in activities, or to lose yourself in a good book outside in the garden or on the Common. So come along and let yourself be transported –whether you like to get away from every day matters or prefer to take time out to consider politics and ideas, there is something for you at the Festival. ”
Embracing this year’s theme, authors Rosie Wilby (Is Monogamy Dead?) and Holly Bourne (How Do You Like Me Now?) will discuss the minefield of modern love in an evening of light-hearted romantic reflection. Whilst Hanan Al-Shaykh, one of the Arab world’s most acclaimed writers, will discuss her new novel The Occasional Virgin, a fresh and fearless romantic comedy about love in a multicultural age. Hanan will be in conversation with Turkey’s most widely read female writer, Elif Shafak (Three Daughters of Eve).
Bringing together great food and superb storytelling, the festival will welcome Melissa Hemsley to show Balham how to eat happy and demonstrate recipes from her latest book; Original Flava’s Craig and Shaun McAnuff will share their family-inspired Caribbean cooking and talk about their journey to social media stardom; Natasha Pulley and Anna Mazzola will serve up a delectable book brunch with coffee, pastries, and captivating historical fiction, and there’ll be scones and short stories with Tessa Hadley and Chris Power.
With escapist reads the order of the day, audiences can travel to the dark forests of Nordic Noir with Antti Tuomainen, Johana Gustawsson and Lilja Sigurdardóttir, who will be reading from their latest work and discussing enduring interest in the genre; Michael Ondaatje will host a captivating evening at Dulwich College, taking audiences back to war-time London, the setting for his much-anticipated novel Warlight; whilst Tim Winton, Carys Davies and Paul Howarth will journey from the vast saltlands of Western Australia to the nineteenth-century American frontier in a discussion about fiction’s transportive power.
Essential societal questions will be posed and debated this year, starting with Malia Bouattia, Matt Myers and Koshka Duff who will look at the history of student revolt and young people as a catalyst for change; Tim Marshall will be discussing the fences, walls and borders that play an ever-growing role in dividing the global population; and Professor AC Grayling will be reflecting on the nature of democracy, and how governmental systems have induced its failure.
Zing Tsjeng will be discussing her Forgotten Women series, uncovering some of the great women history has forgotten and demanding recognition for their achievements. Guy Gunaratne and Diana Evans will also talk about London as a divided city and the role it has played in their literature.
The festival will include events for the whole family, with author Natasha Farrant (The Children of Castle Rock) hosting a children’s writing workshop and a story time session with Dr Anne Rooney, who will read from Dinosaur Atlas. For parents, Instagram’s favourite dad Simon Hooper – aka Father of Daughters – will also be sharing his side-splitting stories of modern family life.
For more information and tickets, please go to: https://balhamliteraryfestival.co.uk/
Notes to editors
• Balham Literary Festival is part of the MILD group’s Live Lit series, which includes two annual literary festivals and a year-round series of in-store events at Dulwich Books.
• Tickets are on sale now at https://balhamliteraryfestival.co.uk, as well as in store at Dulwich Books, 6 Croxted Road, SE21 8SW.
• Events will take place at venues across Balham including Balham Bowls Club, Balham Library and Oxfam, Balham.
About the MILD Group
The Group’s name is an acronym of the first letters of the four organisations: the Marsh Agency, established in 1994, The Indigo Press, inaugurated in 2017, Livelit, established in 2016 and Dulwich Books, established in 1982. They are four separate entities working together to harness the talents of the team.
About Live Lit
Live Lit is a programme of literary events taking place across South London including two annual festivals in Balham and Dulwich, described by Time Out as “one of the key events in the London literary calendar”.
Working with a range of local venue partners, including Dulwich Books, the programme showcases a range of writers across all genres to create events of all sizes for both adults and children. Former guests have included Harriet Harman, Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke, Robert Peston, Julian Barnes, Joanna Trollope, Ali Smith, Matt Haig, Kate Pankhurst, Alan Hollinghurst, Kei Miller, Joe Dunthorne, Chris Mould, Adam Rutherford and Ed Yong.
Live Lit events have featured in publications including Shortlist, Time Out, Harper’s Bazaar, Stylist, The Lady, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Metro, i paper, the Guardian, Primary Times, The Big Issue, Mumsnet, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, Monocle, Emerald Street, Londonist, Culture Whisper, The Bookseller & Bookbrunch.