See Programme page for our schedule of events
Martin Amis is one of the most influential and innovative voices in contemporary British fiction, renowned for his intellectual energy and verbal ingenuity. He is the author of novels, including The Rachel Papers (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), Money, London Fields, Yellow Dog and House of Meetings, story collections, including Einstein's Monsters, and non-fiction, including the memoir Experience (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), Koba the Dread and The Second Plane. His most recent work is the critically acclaimed The Pregnant Widow, a comic novel set in the 1970s in the throes of the sexual revolution. He is a regular contributor to numerous newspapers, magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, The Observer, The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. Martin Amis lives in London with his wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca, and children.
Fatima Bhutto, niece of Benazir and grand-daughter of former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is a fearless and outspoken critic of Pakistan's current regime. She studied at Columbia University and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Bhutto now works as a political commentator, poet and author, writing for The Daily Beast and the New Statesman, among other publications. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Whispers of the Desert, and 8.50 a.m. 8 October 2005, which marks the moment a major earthquake hit Pakistan. Her latest book, Songs of Blood and Sword, tells the story of the Bhutto family as it mirrors the tumultuous history of Pakistan itself, and of the quest to find the truth behind her father's murder that has led her to the heart of her country's volatile political establishment.
Gregory Blackstock is an artist from Seattle, who only began drawing in earnest in his mid 40s, but his work showed remarkable power and precision from the start. He depicts his subjects in categorical fashion, usually consisting of neat rows and columns, and he often creates very large drawings by taping together several sheets of paper. Greg catalogues many diverse and interesting subjects with his art, such as state birds, historic aircraft, common and unusual plants, and he learns incredibly detailed information about each of his subjects. Throughout the years, Greg's drawings have become more regimented and precise, and he began introducing colour in 2004. Called an autistic savant by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Darold Treffer, Greg exhibits many of the classic contradictions of the savant. He can expertly shade a drawing of a bird's wing, yet could not understand verbal directions to 'put the yellow plug into the yellow circle' when setting up a DVD player. Greg reads and memorises the thesaurus to improve his vocabulary and continually learns new things about the subjects of his drawings. Learn more about Gregory Blackstock at www.garde-rail.com.
Breyten Breytenbach is a South African writer, painter and activist. He left South Africa in 1960 as a result of his horror at apartheid and settled in Paris in 1962. Breytenbach's first literary works were poems, many expressing his political views, and he is recognised as one of the finest living poets of the Afrikaans language. On a clandestine return to his homeland in 1975, Breytenbach was arrested under the Terrorism Act and jailed for seven years. Out of this experience came the semi-fictional Mouroir: Mirrornotes of a Novel and The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist, widely regarded as a political and artistic masterpiece. Breytenbach now lives in Paris and New York.
Natalie Clein is one of the world's most exceptional cellists. She first attracted the attention of the international music scene at the age of sixteen, when she was awarded the BBC's Young Musician of the Year and in the same year was the first ever British winner of the Eurovision Competition for Young Musicians. She has since won a number of prestigious prizes, including the Classical Brit Award for Young British Performer in 2005, the Ingrid zu Solms Cultur Preis at the 2003 Kronberg Academie, and in 2008 was nominated in the Classical Brits Best Female Artist category. Natalie has released three discs on EMI Classics and in June will release an all-Kodaly CD with Julius Drake on Hyperion, which has already won critical acclaim. Natalie is passionate about combining traditional repertoire with more experimental pieces and reaching out to new audiences. She is also a committed mentor of emerging talent and has worked with young musicians around the world. www.natalieclein.com
Tjawangwa Dema (TJ Dema) is a Botswana-based writer, poet, performer, columnist, workshop facilitator and 'all round word addict'. She has worked as a mentor for the 2007/8 British Council poetry-storytelling-rap initiative, Power in the Voice, and was a co-founder of Exoduslivepoetry! in 2002. Her words are written to a beat with an unconscious emphasis on acoustics rather than poetic technique, which more often than not takes a back seat to the story being told and how it's being told. She has performed in Johannesburg, Delhi, Cambridge, Harare and many places in between.
Zena Edwards is a London-born poet and performer who uses song, movement and global influences as a jump-off for her words in a fusion of poetry and music. She is also an experienced education practitioner and has run workshops all over the world. Zena has been commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for Bloodlines as part of the Africa 05 series and by Apples & Snakes' Broken Words. She has collaborated with Pops Mohamed, Busi Mhlongo, Julie Dexter and Max Lasser, and performed at venues and festivals throughout the world, including The Southbank Centre, The Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Zanzibar Film Festival and Glastonbury. Her one woman show, Security, was very well received internationally and in the UK.
Mathias Énard (born in 1972) is a member of the Isocèle research group in Paris and on the editorial board of Inculte, a literary and philosophical review. A resident at the Villa Médicis in 2005-2006, he currently teaches Arabic at the University of Barcelona. He has published several translations: Mirzâ Habib Esfahâni's Epitre de la queue, translated from Persian, and Yussef Bazzi's Yasser Arafat m'a regardé et m'a souri, translated from the Arabic. He is the author of several books of poetry, including Travail de nuit (with lithographist and printer Thomas Marin) and Bréviaire des artificiers (with drawings by Pierre Marquès), and of three novels published by Actes Sud: La perfection du tir, Remonter l'Orénoque, and Zone, for which he was awarded the 2008 December Prize and the 2009 Livre Inter Prize. Zone is scheduled for publication in the United States with Three Percent press.
Steven Gale is an arts and education manager based in London. He has worked at theatres in England and Scotland, and taught at universities in Ireland and the United States. He was assistant artistic director at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh for six years, and assistant director to the renowned Spanish theatre director Calixto Bieito on two acclaimed Edinburgh International Festival productions, Life is a Dream and Barbaric Comedies. Steven has previously chaired events at literature festivals including Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Cambridge, Brighton and Sydney.
Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer and an electric new voice in fiction. Her first book, the short story collection An Elegy for Easterly, was awarded The Guardian First Book Award and has recently been shortlisted for the highly prestigious Orwell Prize. It will be published in more than ten languages. In her stories, Gappah looks beyond the headlines to convey the warmth and humanity that characterise the lives of Zimbabweans, and sees her challenge as being to 'write about what it is to be a human being living in a particular space'. Petina Gappah has law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University and the University of Zimbabwe. She lives in Geneva with her son and is currently completing her first novel, The Book of Memory. www.petinagappah.com
Mark Gevisser is a South African journalist and writer. He is the author of the much acclaimed biography of Thabo Mbeki, A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream (Palgrave Macmillan), for which he won the 2008 Alan Paton Award. It has been described by the Times Literary Supplement as 'probably the finest piece of non-fiction to come out of South Africa since the end of apartheid' and by the BBC's Fergal Keane as 'the indispensable and definitive account of post-apartheid South Africa'. He is also the author of Defiant Desire, Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa and Portraits of Power: Profiles in a Changing South Africa. Mark is currently writer-in-residence at the University of Pretoria, where he teaches in the journalism programme, and is working on a new book, to be published by Atlantic (UK) and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (USA). He lives in France and South Africa with his partner. www.markgevisser.com
Janine di Giovanni is an award-winning author and journalist. She has been covering global conflict since the 1980s, and is considered one of Europe's most respected journalists. She is the author of The Place at the End of the World: Essays from the Edge, and Madness Visible: A Memoir of War, both of which have been critically acclaimed for dealing so movingly with the human cost of war. Janine writes regularly for The Times and Vanity Fair, and is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, The Spectator, National Geographic, Granta and many others. She is the recipient of four major awards, including the National Magazine Award for her work in Kosovo, two Amnesty International Awards for her coverage of Sierra Leone and Bosnia, and Britain's Granada Television's Foreign Correspondent of the Year for her reporting on Chechnya. Janine's next book, Ghosts by Daylight, is a memoir of war and motherhood set in Paris and is due out in 2011. Janine will act as president of the jury for this year's Prix Bayeux Correspondents des Guerres in October. She lives in Paris with her son. www.janinedigiovanni.com
David Hare is one of the UK's most internationally performed playwrights, screenwriters and political commentators. His first play, Slag, was originally produced in London in 1970 at the Hampstead Theatre. His plays include Plenty, a portrait of disillusionment in post-war Britain; the trilogy Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges and The Absence of War, about three British institutions: the Anglican church, the legal system and the Labour Party; and Stuff Happens, about the invasion of Iraq. His latest play, The Power of Yes, took on the financial crisis to much critical acclaim. Hare's screenplay adaptations include Damage, The Reader and The Hours. He is also author of Obedience, Struggle & Revolt, a collection of lectures about politics and art, and Via Dolorosa, a rumination on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The French government made him an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1997, and in 1998 the British government knighted him. He lives in London with his wife, Nicole Farhi.
Heather Hartley is author of Knock Knock and Paris Editor for Tin House magazine. Her poems, essays and interviews have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Tin House, Post Road and other magazines and numerous anthologies, including The World Within: Writers Talk Ambition, Angst, Aesthetics…, and Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House. She has interviewed some of today's foremost writers, among them Breyten Breytenbach, Marjane Satrapi, Catherine Millet, Amélie Nothomb and Luc Sante. She introduces Shakespeare & Company's weekly reading series and teaches poetry at the American University of Paris. www.heatherhartleyink.com
Jack Hirschman is a legendary American communist poet and activist who has written more than 50 volumes of poetry and essays. For 25 years, he has roamed the streets of San Francisco, reciting poems and rousing rebellion. Jack's published volumes of poetry include Black Alephs, Lyripol, The Bottom Line and Endless Threshold. In 2006, he published his most extensive collection yet, The Arcanes, which contains 126 long poems spanning 34 years. In that same year, Hirschman was appointed Poet Laureate of San Francisco. He is also an assistant editor at the left-wing literary journal Left Curve and a correspondent for The People's Tribune. Jack Hirschman is currently Poet-in-Residence at The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. He is married to Swedish painter, poet and artist, Agneta Falk.
Denis Hirson was born in Cambridge, England, of South African parents in 1951. He lived in South Africa from 1952 until the end of 1973, the year in which his father, who had been a political prisoner, was released from jail. He studied Social Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and has since worked as an English teacher, and before that as an actor, in France. He has written four memory books, all of them concerned with South Africa during the apartheid years: The House Next Door to Africa (1986), I Remember King Kong (the Boxer) (2004), We Walk Straight So You Better Get Out the Way (2005) and White Scars (2006). A book of poems, Gardening in the Dark, was published in 2007. Denis Hirson is also the editor of two anthologies, The Heinemann Book of South African Short Stories (with Martin Trump), and The Lava of this Land, South African Poetry 1960-1996. He has translated into English a selection of Breyten Breytenbach's poetry, In Africa Even the Flies Are Happy.
Ian Jack is a writer and editor. From 1995 to 2007 he edited the literary magazine Granta, and previously The Independent on Sunday, of which he was a co-founder. He began his career as a journalist on newspapers in Scotland and for sixteen years worked at The Sunday Times as a reporter, editor and, mainly in India and Pakistan, a foreign correspondent. He has reviewed books for many publications, including The New York Times and the London Review of Books. Last year he published a second anthology of essays, The Country Formerly Known as Great Britain: Writings 1989-2009. He lives in London with his wife and two children, and writes a weekly column for the Guardian.
Yusef Komunyakaa is a New York-based Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and performer. Influenced strongly by jazz, blues and folklore, Komunyakaa is author of multiple volumes of poetry, including Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999, Talking Dirty to the Gods, Thieves of Paradise, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, Magic City, Dien Cai Dau, which won The Dark Room Poetry Prize, I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head, winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Award, and Copacetic. He collaborates regularly with other artists in a variety of genres including music, dance and drama to produce groundbreaking performance pieces and is currently a professor in the Creative Writing Program at New York University.
Hanif Kureishi CBE is a playwright, screenwriter, novelist and film-maker. His novels include The Buddha of Suburbia, The Black Album and Intimacy. He is also the author of story collections, including Love in a Blue Time and The Body, plays, including Outskirts, Borderline and Sleep With Me, and screenplays, including My Beautiful Laundrette and My Son the Fanatic. Among his other publications are the collection of essays Dreaming and Scheming, The Word and the Bomb and the memoir My Ear at His Heart. His latest work is Collected Stories, an anthology of writing spanning the later part of his career. Kureishi has been awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and was appointed a CBE in 2008 for services to literature and drama. In that same year he was listed in The Times as one of 'The 50 Greatest British Writers since 1945'. Kureishi lives in London with his wife and children.
Emma Larkin is the pseudonym for an American writer and journalist who writes widely about Asia, and most notably Burma, from her base in Bangkok. She studied Burmese at the London School of Oriental and African Studies and has been visiting the country for close to fifteen years. Larkin's first book, the political travelogue Finding George Orwell in Burma, recounts the year she spent travelling through the police state using the work and life of Orwell as her compass. Her latest book, Everything is Broken, looks at life in Burma in the months following the disastrous Cyclone Nargis and interrogates the brutal totalitarian regime that clung to power in its aftermath and compounded the devastation of its own country.
Nam Le was born in Vietnam and raised in Australia. His first book, The Boat, received over a dozen major prizes, including the PEN/Malamud Award, the Australian Prime Minister's Literary Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Melbourne Prize, and a US National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Fiction Selection, and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book and Editor's Choice, the best debut of 2008 by New York Magazine and the Australian Book Review, the #1 fiction title of 2008 by The Oregonian, and a Book of the Year by numerous venues around the world. The Boat has been translated into thirteen languages and its stories widely anthologised. Le is the fiction editor of the Harvard Review. He divides his time between Australia and abroad. www.namleonline.com
Natalie Levisalles is a journalist with Libération. She is also the author of an essay on teenagers entitled L'ado et le bonobo. Essai sur un âge impossible.
Chip Martin is a writer and director of Starhaven books, which specializes in novellas and short works of belles-lettres. As Stoddard Martin he is author of critical studies about late Romanticism and early Modernism. American by origin, he has lived principally in London since 1970s. For five years he served on the management committee of English PEN.
Njabulo Ndebele is a renowned South African academic, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of the novel The Cry of Winnie Mandela, and a book of short stories, Fools and Other Stories, which won the Noma Award for best book published in Africa in 1984. He has also published an influential collection of writing on South African literature and culture, Rediscovery of the Ordinary and, more recently, Fine Lines from the Box, a collection of journalistic essays exploring the vulnerabilities and confusions that dog our understanding of South Africa past and present. Njabulo Ndebele was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town from 2000 to 2008 and served as President of the South African Congress of Writers for many years. He lives in Cape Town.
The Paper Cinema is an illustrated song, a shadow show, a smoke, a mirror, a puppet show, a cinema show, side show, magic show, a show and tale, a show off. It exists in the meeting of live music and moving drawings. What happens at the accidental meeting of inkblots, photocopies, cardboard, angle-poise lamps, the occasional table, video technology, a laptop and a banana box? Best to see The Paper Cinema with your own eyes…
Porchlight Storytelling is a literary initiative from San Francisco, founded and hosted by Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte. It brings together an eclectic mix of storytellers for evenings of entertainment and inspiration. Each storyteller tells a ten-minute tale on a specific theme without using notes or memorisation. The theme for their FestivalandCo performance is 'Strange Bedfellows: Stories of Alliance'. www.porchlightsf.com
Robert Mailer Anderson is an American novelist and author of Boonville. In 2007, he co-wrote, produced and appeared in Pig Hunt, a punkabilly horror film set in Northern California.
Agneta 'Aggie' Falk is a Swedish-born poet who writes in English, and a noted painter. Her most recent book of poems is Heart Muscle, a bilingual edition translated by Raffaella Marzano and published in Italy by Multimedia Edizioni. She recently read at the Al-Marbid Poetry Festival in Basra, Iraq.
Gentry Lane is the designer of Gentry de Paris luxury lingerie and loungewear and the artistic director of the Gentry de Paris Burlesque Revue, Paris's only high-voltage vintage glamour Burlesque troupe.
Alfonso Montuori is Professor and Department Chair of the Transformative Studies PhD and Transformative Leadership MA at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He specialises in creativity and improvisation, complexity and education.
Olivier Postel-Vinay is a French journalist and essayist born in 1948 in Paris. A former editor of Science & Vie and Courrier International, among others, he is currently chief editor of Books, a magazine he founded in 2008. Olivier Postel-Vinay has published numerous essays, including Le Taon dans la cité, actualité de Socrate, and La revanche du chromosome X - Enquête sur les origines et le devenir du féminin.
Philip Pullman is one of the world's most magical and masterful storytellers. After graduating from Oxford University, he became a teacher and later a lecturer in English at Westminster College. He is the author of many books for children and adults, including the Sally Lockhart series, I Was a Rat! and The Firework-Maker's Daughter. He is most well-known, however, for the trilogy His Dark Materials, which comprises Northern Lights, for which he won the Carnegie of Carnegies; The Subtle Knife; and The Amber Spyglass, which was the first children's book to win the Whitbread Book of the Year. He is also the author of Lyra's Oxford and the prequel to the series, Once Upon a Time in the North. In 2002, Pullman received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for children's literature and, in 2005, was joint winner of the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, granted by the Swedish government. His latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, is a bold and life-affirming retelling of the life of Jesus. Philip Pullman lives in Oxford. He is working on a new book, The Book of Dust. www.philip-pullman.com
André Schiffrin was the director of Pantheon Books for 30 years, where he published some of the world's leading writers, including Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Eric Hobsbawm, Art Spiegelman, Simone de Beauvoir, Studs Terkel and Marguerite Duras. In 1990 Schiffrin left Pantheon to found The New Press, and many of those writers came with him. He is the author of the acclaimed study of the book industry, The Business of Books, and his memoir, A Political Education, was published in 2007 in New York and Paris (as Allers-retours). His next book Words and Money will be published in English at the end of 2010. He is also contributor to and editor of the wartime comic-strip compendium Dr. Seuss & Co. Go to War. André Schiffrin divides his time between Paris and New York.
Will Self is one of Britain's leading writers. He is the author of five short story collections, The Quantity Theory of Insanity (winner of the 1992 Geoffrey Faber award), Grey Area, Tough Tough Toys for Tough Tough Boys, Dr Mukti & Other Tales of Woe, and Liver; a dyad of novellas, Cock and Bull, and a third novella, The Sweet Smell of Psychosis; and seven novels, My Idea of Fun, Great Apes, How the Dead Live (shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year 2000), Dorian, The Book of Dave, The Butt (winner of the 2008 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize) and Walking to Hollywood (to be published this year in English). His non-fiction includes Perfidious Man, Sore Sites, Pyschogeography and Psycho Too. He has also published two collections of journalism, Feeding Frenzy and Junk Mail. Will Self writes for an array of publications and is a regular broadcaster on television and radio. He lives in London with his wife, the journalist Deborah Orr, and various children. will-self.com
Carole Seymour-Jones is Deputy-President of English PEN and Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC). Her most recent work is A Dangerous Liaison, a dual biography of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, which was shortlisted for the Marsh Biography Award and has been translated into several European languages. She is also the author of Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, first wife of TS Eliot, which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, and a biography of Beatrice Webb. She teaches biography and life-writing on the MA in Creative Non-Fiction at City University in London.
Raja Shehadeh is a Palestinian lawyer and writer who lives in Ramallah on the West Bank. He is author of the highly acclaimed Strangers in the House and When the Birds Stopped Singing. His latest book, Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape, won the UK's most prestigious award for political writing, The Orwell Prize, in 2008. Shehadeh is also the founder of the human rights organisation Al-Haq, an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. His next book, A Rift in Time, Travels of My Ottoman Uncle, will be published in August by Profile Books.
Martin Bonger and Naomi Durston, Storytellers of Quietly, Sideways: 'a collective of theatre makers that specialise in simply rekindling classic myths, folk stories and fairy tales. They uncover unexpected worlds using a physical and verbal language that is exciting and visceral.'
Jack Lynch – rooted in the seanchai (meaning, literally, the 'old lore') tradition of Irish storytelling, Jack is a founder member of the Dublin Yarnspinners and of Storytellers of Ireland.
Erica Wagner is Literary Editor of The Times. She writes a weekly column in the Saturday Review section of the paper, and has interviewed many of the world's leading writers, including Philip Roth, Doris Lessing, Donna Tartt, Seamus Heaney, Roddy Doyle and Peter Ackroyd. Erica is also an accomplished author in her own right – her books include Gravity, a collection of short stories, and Ariel's Gift, a biographical gloss on Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters. Her novel, Seizure, was published in Britain and the US in 2007; it is about to appear in France as Saisissements, from Editions au-delà du raisonnable. She has judged many literary prizes; the Man Booker in 2002 (when the winner was Yann Martel's Life of Pi), the Orange Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Forward Prize. She lives in London with her husband and son. www.ericawagner.co.uk
Jeanette Winterson published her first book, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, at the age of 23. Since then she has written some of the most exciting and imaginative fiction around, including The Passion, Sexing the Cherry, The Stone Gods, The Powerbook and Weight. In 2006 Jeanette was awarded an OBE for services to literature. Her most recent book is The Battle of the Sun, a fantasy adventure for children and adults set in 1660s London. She has won various awards around the world for her fiction and adaptations, including the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel, the EM Forster Award, and the FIPA d'argent at Cannes Film Festival. She writes regularly for various UK newspapers, especially The Times and the Guardian. Jeanette lives in a cottage in Gloucestershire and above her shop, Verdes, in east London. She is experimenting with a part-move to Paris because she can't resist the French. www.jeanettewinterson.com
Gao Xingjian is a novelist, playwright, director, painter and cinematographer. Born in China in 1940, he pioneered experimental theatre in Peking in the early 1980s, before his works were censored by the Chinese authorities. He moved to Paris as a political refugee in 1989 and became a French citizen in 1997. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000 for a work 'of universal import, marked by a bitter consciousness and linguistic ingenuity'. The diversity of Gao Xingjian's work has made him one of the greatest artistic creators of our time, and his plays have been staged worldwide.
5x15 is a literary venture founded by Eleanor O'Keeffe, Rosie Boycott and Daisy Leitch. Once a month in London five outstanding individuals enlighten, entertain and inspire as they tell the story behind their most innovative ideas, grandest achievements and deepest obsessions - each in just fifteen minutes. Past speakers have included Ben Macintyre, Brian Eno, Fatima Bhutto, Maureen Lipman, Frances Stonor Saunders and Andrew O'Hagan. www.5x15stories.com