The festival will rediscover far-sighted classics and examine how we are already living in an era predicted by Science Fiction, celebrating the work of the world’s most visionary established and upcoming writers and artists. London Literature Festival runs from 5 – 16 October 2016 and incorporates the final weekend of Southbank Centre’s Power of Power festival from 7 – 9 October. Highlights include:
Marking 150 years since HG Wells’ birth, a reading of his classic Sci-Fi novel The Time Machine opens the festival and a discussion on Wells’ relationships with women is broadcast live from the Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking (5 October)
- World-renowned writer Margaret Atwood launches and discusses her new novel, Hag-Seed, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (6 October)
- An exclusive in-person Q&A screening with Louis Theroux, at the Royal Festival Hall, for his first theatrical feature documentary My Scientology Movie, a film which delves into one of the world’s most mysterious and powerful religions (10 October).
- Leading writers and experts from the world of science including Richard Dawkins, Marcus Du Sautoy, Ed Yong, and more
- A day featuring the best international writers of science-fiction including Hassan Blasim, Lauren Beukes, Xiaolu Guo and Cixin Liu (15 October)
- Authors including biographer Paul Morley celebrate and explore David Bowie’s life and legacy in a free event (7 October)
- Young Adult Literature Weekender offers more opportunities than ever before to the next generation of writers (15 & 16 October). Featuring the most exciting YA novelists, bloggers, vloggers, poets and spoken word artists from rising stars to legends of YA, such as Sara Barnard, Malorie Blackman, Holly Bourne, Juno Dawson, Sally Green, Sungju Lee, Hollie McNish and Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Ted Hodgkinson, Senior Programmer, Literature and Spoken Word, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to announce that the 2016 London Literature Festival will feature an incredible programme of world-renowned writers, futurologists and transhumanists ready to face the fast-approaching future, and celebrate the power of the imagination to take us beyond our expectations as a species. At a moment of great political change and social conflict, Living in Future Times will look at how writers have often had the best antennae when it comes to anticipating the challenges facing humanity, both in the present and the world yet to come.”
Celebrating some of the world’s greatest science-fiction writers, London Literature Festival opens with two events marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of HG Wells, the father of science-fiction. In a panel discussion exploring Wells’ relationships with women (5 October) Louisa Treger, author of the first biographical novel of Dorothy Richardson, a key woman in Wells’ life, and Matthew Sweet address Wells’ reputation as a serial womanizer and reappraise the life and legacy of this defining writer. Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, this free event is followed by a specially commissioned adaptation and live reading of The Time Machine (5 October), HG Wells’ far-sighted novel which popularised the concept of time travel and gave birth to a genre which reaches into the present and far beyond.
Bestselling author Margaret Atwood launches and discusses her new novel, Hag-Seed, a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, published as part of the VINTAGE Hogarth Shakespeare series (6 October). A true visionary, Atwood’s many works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction include her seminal dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale and is in conversation with Erica Wagner. Wagner also joins Neel Mukherjee and Salley Vickers to explore the work of Alan Garner whose novels from The Weirdstone of Brisingamen to Red Shift and beyond have fascinated and inspired readers and writers alike for more than fifty years (10 October).
In an exclusive preview event before publication, Naomi Alderman reads from her new novel The Power (16 October), telling the story of four girls and women who struggle against daily oppressions and sexism until one day they find their lives radically altered by the power to inflict lightning bolts of pain, and even death, at the flick of their fingers.
In a special event celebrating the publications of four landmark books The Selfish Gene (1976), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996) and The God Delusion (2006), Richard Dawkins gives a keynote address which looks back across the span of his previous work, and explores how his own thought has evolved in Richard Dawkins: Selfish Genes, Future Memes (11 October).
Award-winning science writer and author of I Contain Multitudes Ed Yong introduces us to the 100 trillion microbes which call our bodies home, protect our health, and grant us incredible abilities in a free event (12 October) whilst Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science Marcus Du Sautoy offers insights into the boundaries of scientific understanding in a keynote address and asks if we are at the limits of knowledge (16 October).
Author of Goat Man, Thomas Thwaites discusses Transhumanism, a movement that uses modern technology to tap into an ancient longing for humans to transcend their bodily boundaries, and shares his experience of using prosthetic limbs to transform himself and live as a goat (11 October).
INTERNATIONAL WRITERS DAY (15 OCTOBER)
London Literature Festival features a number of exciting international writers of science fiction. China’s most celebrated science fiction author Cixin Liu (nine times the winner of China’s most prestigious prize for science fiction, the Galaxy Award) is in conversation with filmmaker and novelist Xiaolu Guo to explore the concerns and fantasies of the world’s most populous country. Award-winning Iraqi author and editor of a new anthology Iraq+100 Hassan Blasim considers what Iraq will look like in the year 2103, 100 years on from the American and British-led invasion with translator Jonathan Wright. In a rare London event, internationally-acclaimed writer Lauren Beukes reads her fiction and talks about the relationship between the present and the future in South African Sci Fi (15 October).
Further international highlights include Caribbean-British poet and celebrated performer, John Agard, in his one-person show Roll Over Atlantic (14, 15, 16 October) which fuses elements of calypso, cabaret and spoken word and Israeli writer Etgar Keret discussing his new book of essays, Seven Good Years, named for the years between the birth of his son and the death of his father (16 October).
There are a number of events for younger readers including Caitlin Moran who returns to Southbank Centre with her Moranifesto for girls on International Day of the Girl (11 October). The festival culminates in the Young Adult Weekender (15 & 16 October) featuring the most exciting YA novelists, bloggers, vloggers, poets and spoken word artists from rising stars to the legends of YA, such as Malorie Blackman, Hollie McNish, Juno Dawson, Sally Green, Holly Bourne, Sara Barnard, Sungju Lee and Harriet Reuter Hapgood. The Young Adult Weekender offers audiences an opportunity to meet their favourite writers, and learn how to become a writer with workshops, the YA Market and drop-in mentoring.
Against the backdrop of a growing refugee crisis and the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the festival presents the timely world premiere of readings from a new crowd-funded anthology The Good Immigrant (6 October). Compiled by Nikesh Shukla, the anthology features contributions from Riz Ahmed, Chimene Suleyman and Kieran Yates and explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay, and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t always seem to want you.
Renowned filmmaker Louis Theroux’s first theatrical feature documentary My Scientology Movie (10 October) is screened at the Royal Festival Hall; a film which delves into one of the world’s most mysterious and powerful religions in what he regards as ‘The Holy Grail of Stories’. The screening is followed by an exclusive in-person Q&A with Theroux.
Women Writers of the Future: the inaugural SI Leeds Prize is a national, biennial award for black and Asian women writers in the UK, addressing the fervently-debated and problematic issue of lack of diversity in the world of publishing (9 October). Acclaimed author and literary critic Bernardine Evaristo hosts a roundtable discussion with the shortlisted authors of the 2016 SI Leeds Literary Prize.
From Ziggy Stardust to Blackstar, David Bowie invented the future in his music and his writing, anticipating future concerns and capturing the imaginations of millions. A panel of experts and authors celebrate and explore Bowie’s life and legacy in a free event, including biographer Paul Morley, the author of The Age of Bowie: How David Bowie Made a World of Difference and Tiffany Murray, editor of Fill Your Heart, anthology of Writers on Bowie (7 October). This event is followed by a Bowie Big Sing in partnership with BBC Radio 3.
London Literature Festival also explores the future of literature itself. A panel of graphic novelists including award-winning Isabel Greenberg and Tom Gauld discuss pushing the boundaries of the art form, and how to find playful and provocative new ways of telling stories in The Future of Graphic Novels (13 October). Acclaimed authors Alejandro Zambra and Iain Pears present groundbreaking works which offer distinctive new ways for a reader to engage with a text from Zambra’s new novel Multiple Choice which invites the reader to answer multiple-choice questions to Pears’ most recent work Arcadia, both a physical book and an app which allows the reader full control of the narrative (12 October). Award-winning Jamaican poet Kei Miller and Books Editor at the BBC Di Speirs, judges for the 2016 BBC National Short Story Award, lead a panel on the future of the short story alongside the winner of the award (5 October).
To close the 2016 London Literature Festival, Literary Death Match (16 October) offers a comedy-rich futuristic evening featuring four authors reading their most electric writing for seven minutes or less before a panel of three all-star judges. Two finalists compete in the Literary Death Match finale to decide the ultimate winner.
From writing a letter to your future self to a Futuristic Big Sing , London Literature Festival offers a diverse range of free events including workshops, panel discussions and live performances for all ages as well as a number of free events celebrating National Poetry Day (6 October).