May literary events

 In All About Writing, Author Q&A, Invitations, Newsletters, What's On In

The literary world is crammed with events this May

Let us know if there’s something we should add.

Stratford Literary Festival

When: 8 to 16 May

Format: A mix of digital and live events

The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Maggie O’Farrell will be discussing her latest novel Hamnet and the central role Stratford-upon-Avon plays in the story. Join Rebecca Lee (How Words Get Good), professional word-improver, for a behind-the-scenes tour for book lovers everywhere as she embarks on the fascinating journey to find out how a book gets from author’s brain to finished copy. Take a gentle trip up the River Avon and let Wiliam Sieghart of The Poetry Pharmacy prescribe you a poem to ease your ailments whether you are suffering from loneliness, lack of courage, heartbreak, hopelessness, or even from an excess of ego. More info…

Franschhoek Literary Festival

13 to 15 May

A couple of events take place virtually with most events taking place in a variety of village venues within a few minutes’ walk of each other, creating a vibrant ambience in streets buzzing with book-lovers.

A few suggestions from a very exciting programme are:

  • The Story Party (Virtual): John Maytham chews the fat with thriller wizard Jeffrey Archer, whose new William Warwick thriller Over My Dead Body is out now. For starters, how does one man sell 275-million books? (Via Zoom).
  • DIY The Hell Not?: Sara-Jayne Makwala King discovers the secrets of going it alone with two best-selling queens of self-published fiction – Dudu Busani-Dube (the Hlomu series) and Jackie Phamotse(the Bare series).
  • The First Person: Melinda Ferguson talks to All About Writing alumnus Jane Evans(A Path Unexpected) & Glynis Horning(Waterboy) about the taxing and rewarding art of memoir writing.
  • Ink-Redible (Virtual): Michele Magwood is joined by Charlie Mackesy, artist, illustrator, and author of the international bestseller The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.
  • The Nerve Toucher:  Karina M. Szczurek talks to Orange Prize winner Lionel Shriver (Should We Stay Or Should We Go) and her knack for exploring social and cultural fault-lines.
  • Ready, Steady, Bestseller: Jackie Phamotse talks to Deon Meyer(The Dark Flood) about his new thriller and creative process – from the seed of the idea to the last edit.
  • Light & Shade: Finuala Dowling asks Karen Jennings(An Island) and Joanne Joseph(Children of Sugarcane) about the art of creating morally complex characters.
  • The Unpromised Land: Mark Gevisser talks to 2021 Booker Prize winner Damon Galgut about The Promise, its literary influences, and its reflections on post-apartheid South Africa.
  • Lit Grit: Writer Bongani Kona speaks to Karen Jennings about her novel An Island, a parable about refugees and xenophobia, which made the Booker long list 2021 after many publishers’ rejections. What has sudden success meant for her writing life?
  • The Female Line: Yewande Omotoso talks about women’s voices and the art of generational fiction with Tsitsi Dangarembga (This Mournable Body) & Sindiwe Magona (When The Village Sleeps).
  • The Gene Pool: John Maytham talks to Finuala Dowling about her new novel, The Man Who Loved Crocodile Tamers and the psychological mysteries of departed parents. Read more…

Santa Fe Literary Festival

20 to 23 May 2022

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The inaugural Sante Fe Literary Festival brings together influential authors, thinkers, and passionate readers for an event as unique and inspiring as the city itself.

Bestselling, prizewinning authors (Colson Whitehead,  George R.R. Martin and Margaret Atwood) headline the festival with readings and book signings that set the stage for further inspired conversations. Read more…

Hay Festival

25 May – 5 June

Hay-on-Wye, Hereford and a limited number of events will be live streamed.  Online Festival Passes will be available to purchase.

With more than 500 in-person events over 11 days, Hay Festival is the world’s leading festival of ideas, bringing readers and writers together in sustainable events to inspire, examine and entertain.

There will be in-person appearances from among others Abdulrazak Gurnah, Stephen Fry, Monica Ali, Damon Galgut, Ben Okri, Bernardine Evaristo, Edmund de Waal, Elif Shafak, George Monbiot, Ian Rankin and  an all-star Letters Live cast led by Benedict Cumberbatch.

This year’s programme launches the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around some of the biggest issues of our times. Award-winning writers, policy makers, pioneers and innovators take part from around the world, seeking solutions to the biggest issues of our time, from the climate crisis to global conflicts. . More info here…

Kingsmead Book Fair

Saturday 21 May

Kingsmead School, Johannesburg, South Africa

  • The Weight of Expectation: Finuala Dowling (The Man Who Loved Crocodile Tamers), Yewande Omotoso (An Unusual Grief), and Karen Jennings (An Island) talk about the challenges and rewards of writing compelling, award-winning novels with Alma-Nalisha Cele(Cheeky Natives).
  • The pain, the pleasure and the purpose: Lorraine Sithole examines how the triumphing of life’s struggles can lead to extraordinary acts with Andile Gaelesiwe (Remembering), Pindiwe Mgijima-Mabhena (Echoes of the Mountains: The Unspoken Champions), and Barbara Masikela (Poli Poli: A Memoir) and All About Writing alumnus Cathy Park Kelly (Boiling a Frog Slowly).
  • Writing across geographies: Karen Jennings (An Island), Carol-Ann Davids (How To Be A Revolutionary), and All About Writing alumnus Lisa-Anne Julien (If You Save Me) chat about how even when South African stories fan out across the globe, the tales remain apropos of here.
  • Creating suspense: Quraisha Dawood (Stirring the Pot), Penny Haw (The Wilderness Between Us) and Sally Andrew (The Milk Tart Murders) reveal their secrets on how to create tension and anxiety on the page with Gail Schimmel (Never Tell A Lie).
  • Crafting the baddies: Irma Venter (Man Down), Vivian De Klerk (Serpent Crescent), and Nathi Olifant(The Fugitives) talk to Amy Heydenrych on the scary, yet oddly satisfying, process of creating monsters.
  • How to market yourself without shame: Savvy wordsmiths Gus Silber (Electric Graffiti), Melinda Ferguson (MF Books), and Nyiko Mthembi (Tivisa Publicity) break down what it takes to be successful in the brutal business of publishing with Helen Holyoake (Helco Promotions) and Kate Sidley. Read more here…

Tolkien Lecture 2022

When: 23 May 2022 18:00-19:30 BST

Where: In person at Pembroke College, Oxford, with a recording available on Youtube afterwards

This year’s Pembroke Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature will be delivered by acclaimed fantasy author Rebecca F. Kuang. Kuang is best known for the Poppy War trilogy, a grimdark fantasy based on Chinese history. Her work has won the Crawford Award and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel and has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. In 2020, she also won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Read more…

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