Talking Shop: A Weekend of Talks, Readings & Discussion

21st & 22nd September • Priory Theatre • 12pm start both days • £35 / £27.50 for a weekend pass; £8 / £6 for individual event tickets (see below).

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A full weekend of talks, readings and panel discussions, celebrating some of the most inspiring and thought-provoking new fiction and non-fiction books released in 2019.

We’re very proud to be able to bring together some of our favourite authors and campaigners for a full weekend of talks, readings and panel discussions, all held in one venue. With nine events over the course of two days, exploring subjects ranging from Windrush to #MeToo, it promises to be a fascinating weekend. Tickets can be purchased  for individual events below, and a limited number of weekend passes are also available from WeGotTickets.

Saturday 21st September

Caroline Lea + Elizabeth Macneal in conversation
Start time: 12pm
Event chair: Lucy Scholes

Two of the UK’s most exciting new voices in fiction join us to speak about their debut novels, both of which are gripping works of historical fiction. Elizabeth Macneal’s first novel, The Doll Factory, is a story of art, obsession and possession set in Victorian London. The Doll Factory was a Sunday Times top 10 best-seller and has been featured on both BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4. Warwickshire-based author Caroline Lea’s debut, The Glass Woman, was published in February 2019. Described by The Times as ‘a fantastic, atmospheric debut’, The Glass Woman is set in 17th century Iceland, and is a rich and captivating tale of superstition and salvation, love and fear – for fans of The Binding, The Miniaturist and The Silent Companions.

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Nikesh Shukla: The Boxer
Start time: 1.45pm
Event chair: TBC

As a novelist, non-fiction writer, screenwriter, editor, and tireless campaigner for improving diversity in publishing, Nikesh Shukla is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in British literature today. We’re delighted that he’ll be joining us to talk about his brilliant new YA novel, The Boxer – a gripping and powerful story about friendship, radicalisation and injustice.


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Mariam Khan presents: It’s Not About the Burqa
Start time: 3.30pm

What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it’s all about the burqa. In a landmark anthology published by Picador earlier this year, seventeen Muslim women decided to change the narrative, writing frankly and engagingly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. It’s an extraordinary, important book, and we’re honoured that the anthology’s editor, Mariam Khan, as well as three contributing authors, will be joining us to speak about the project and their work.

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Caroline Criado Perez:  Invisible Women
Start time: 5.15pm
Event chair: Lucy Scholes

Caroline Criado Perez is a writer, broadcaster, and an award-winning feminist campaigner. Her most notable campaigns have included getting a woman on Bank of England banknotes, forcing Twitter to revise its procedures for dealing with abuse and successfully campaigning for a statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett to be erected in Parliament SquareWe’re honoured that Caroline will be joining us to speak about her brilliant new book, Invisible Women, which explores the shocking gender bias that affects our everyday lives.  

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Amelia Gentleman: The Windrush Betrayal
Start time: 7.15pm

Last year, it emerged that thousands of people had been wrongly classified as illegal immigrants; some of them were deported, others lost their homes and their jobs. What united them was that they had all arrived in the UK from the Commonwealth as children in the 1950s and 1960s. The ‘Windrush Scandal’, as it became known, revealed some deeply disturbing truths about modern Britain, and its exposure had a profound impact on British politics. We are honoured to be able to welcome multi-award-winning journalist Amelia Gentleman, whose tenacious investigative and campaigning efforts thrust the scandal into the public domain, to tell the story of ‘The Windrush Betrayal’. Amelia will be speaking about the political and historical context of the scandal, sharing individual stories of those caught up in it, and reflecting on what it felt like to be working as a journalist, trying to understand why law-abiding elderly people were being deported, detained and made homeless by government policies.

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Sunday 22nd September

Children’s Publishing in the Spotlight
Start time: 12pm
Event chair: Tamsin Rosewell

What are the challenges and opportunities in children’s book publishing today? This panel discussion brings together an author (Serena Patel), an illustrator (Jane McGuinness), a publisher (Bella Pearson) and a bookseller (Tamsin Rosewell) to find out! 

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Kerry Hudson: Lowborn
Start time: 2pm
Event chair: Anita Sethi

Kerry Hudson is an award-winning novelist, who also writes for Grazia, Guardian Review and the Metro newspaper. It’s a privilege to welcome Kerry to our festival to speak about her latest book, Lowborn, which was published in 2019. Lauded by The Guardian as ‘one of the most important books of the year’, Lowborn is a book about ‘growing up, getting away and returning to Britain’s poorest towns’.  Kerry is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was all-encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising. Lowborn is Kerry’s exploration of where she came from, and also a powerful, personal agenda-changing study of poverty in today’s Britain. By revisiting the towns she grew up in, Kerry tries to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed. 

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#MeToo in Fiction: Candice Carty-Williams and Rosie Price in conversation
Start time: 4pm
Event chair: Lucy Scholes

We’re thrilled to bring together two distinctive and vital new voices in fiction, whose debut novels both explore modern love and resonate deeply with the recent #MeToo movement. Rosie Price was chosen as an Observer Hottest-Tipped Debut Novelist of 2019, and her astonishing debut novel, What Red Was, has received widespread acclaim since its publication earlier this year. Described by Elle as ‘an unforgettable read’, What Red Was is a startling and sophisticated novel of modern love, sexual violence and toxic inheritance. Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel, Queenie, was published by Orion in April 2019. A Sunday Times best-seller, Queenie is a timely, brilliant novel of humour, heartbreak and identity, and features ‘one of the funniest, most winning heroines who have hit books in about a decade’ (The Stylist).

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Nathan Filer: The Heartland
Start time: 6pm
Event chair: Anita Sethi

Schizophrenia: whether it’s the associations it conjures or the people it brings to mind, it is a word we all have a view on. How we perceive it – and how we treat people living with it – is at the core of how we understand mental health. But what do we really know? How much time do we spend listening? Do we truly comprehend this complex and often contradictory diagnosis? We’re delighted to be joined by Nathan Filer, mental health nurse and award-winning author of the international bestseller The Shock of The Fall, to talk about his latest book. The Heartland debunks myths, challenges assumptions and offers fresh insight into what it means to be mad. And what it means to be human.

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CONCESSIONS: Concessionary ticket prices are available for people who are registered disabled, unemployed or on a low wage, under 16s and students. Free personal assistant tickets are available for all of our events. Please email info@kenilworthartsfestival.co.uk to confirm a place.
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A BSL Interpreter can be made available for any event. Please email info@kenilworthartsfestival.co.uk