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For fiction lovers everywhere, Latitude Festival in Henham Park, Suffolk, offers the most comprehensive of all literary events in the world. Here, we detail the must see performers and shows.
For all the early arrivals, the Literary Arena has a stand out event on Thursday evening. Three of the best writers from around the world (Britain, Spain and Brazil) collect together to discuss the geographical, political and sociological tensions that inform and shape their fiction.
Emma B brings her famously sharp and witty hosting style to the festival for a second year running, opening on Thursday night with two unmissable debates concerning the old favourite of literary talkers, this house believes the book is dead, and the far more cutting-edge, this house believes that for real drama, look to the small screen. Guests include author Caroline Smailes, graphic novelist David Kirkwood, the hilarious Wendy Watson, and TV critic Tom Latcham.
Auton is awesome. From his famous Yellow Show, to making a short movie about a pea shooter (Russell Crowe certified), to hosting Bang Said the Gun, Auton has done little wrong in the past three years. Expect his show to be wacky, loud and hilarious.
Literary super star Carol Ann Duffy, poet laurets her way to Latitude on Friday to perform a slew of gems. Though her latest collection was back in 2005, Duffy has continued to release timely, relevant work on anything from the Beckhams to where MPs are stashing their cash.
Now, this is an interesting one. John Osborne and poetry tent compere Luke Wright, put on a show entitled Where the Railways Were, exploring the change of landscape (socially and geographically) that occurred in Britain when over 9,000 miles of railway was removed from across the country in the 1960s . Guest performances encouraged and expected.
One part stand up, one part poet, Kwame Asante is a wonderful mix of talent and enthusiasm. He’s won prizes for both his comedy and his verse, so prepare yourself to enjoy a rhyme and a giggle.
A knock-out event. Two of Britain’s most interesting and exciting novelists, interviewed by the experienced and knowledgeable literary critic Suzi Feay. Both have released novels this year, Filer’s The Shock of the Fall and Haig’s The Humans, which explore – with pathos and humour – identity, mental health and what it means to be human.
If you’re looking for something a little different for your Friday, then consider nothing else than Rimat’s playful and intelligent inspection of the million tiny processes that make up every decision we make. If You Decide to Stay has been thoroughly researched and promises to transform the way you think about life (if not the just the weekend in Henham).
Lochhead is Scotland’s very own National Poet, and has, over a long career, come to represent all that there is to love about the place beyond the wall. Lochhead’s show is a sort of Reading Retrospective, which takes the audience back to the very first day they learnt to read.
Another show about neuroscience? Yes, but you can never have enough. Metafictional and metahysterical, Apples and Snakes perform a one hour show (face paint and all), asking ‘What are you like?‘
An epic 45 minute poem, put to music, which has only been performed once before, at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2012. It will also mark the only time that Kitson and Osborne recreate their onstage chemistry this year at Latitude. With so many one-offs, surely this is an unmissable afternoon treat.
Germaine Greer – academic, novelist, activist, teacher – takes her provocative and vital talk about women’s position in the world to Latitude. An opportunity to see one of the world’s preeminent social thinkers should not be passed up, no matter if that trendy band from Brooklyn are playing at the same time.
Feay returns on Saturday with another pair of brilliant authors. Smythe has quickly become one of the nation’s pre-eminent sci-fi writers, and his latest novel, The Machine, is an exquisitely written dystopian novel about technology and memory. Theroux is a broadcaster and novelist, with interests ranging from Japanese wabi-sabi to Myrcroft Holmes. Both men are somewhat cultural polymaths, so there’s no telling where this conversation will go, but it’s sure to be intelligent, stimulating and compulsive.
Pink Mist, Sheers’s verse-drama, was published in June 2013 by Faber. It focuses on three men from Bristol who return from fighting in Afghanistan and their subsequent relationships with the women in their lives. BBC Radio 4 broadcast the whole production recently, but this will be one of the first times to hear it in the flesh.
Two of Britain’s most engaging talkers/performers/comedians/poets/presenters are set to collide on Saturday afternoon for an hour of anecdotes, observations and debate. We predict conversation may start on O’Porter’s newly published novel Paper Aeroplanes, but expect it to meander to practically everything important, so bring a pillow and a nice glass of wine and settle in. Laura Dockrill will perform on Sunday in the Poetry Arena.
Sutherland performs his new show, Stand-by for Tape Back-Up, a poetical romp through one of his grandfather’s old VHS tapes. An audiovisual extravaganza that won’t be topped by anything but the Kraftwerk 3D concert.
You know that act you walk past on Sunday afternoon and have no idea who they are but they sound so different and so brilliant that you stick around for five minutes and end up staying for the whole thing? Well, that’s Thum. His unique poetic beat-boxing will enslave your mind. Perfect Sunday afternoon chilling.
This is reportedly Vincent’s final ever poetry gig. Thick Richard is the Jack Dee of rhyming couplets. If that ain’t enough to get you down, then their combined show Fear of a Beige Planet must be.
A bumper day at the Poetry Arena sees Caroline Bird round out a fantastic weekend. Bird was one of the five official Poets of the London Olympic games in 2012, so head down if you’re feeling patriotic or just want to cry a little out of nostalgia.
It’s about time that illustrators took centre stage at a literary festival, and SelfMadeHero, the graphic novel publisher, have installed three of their best, and brought along Toby Litt for kicks. If you’re a keen reader or illustration-curious then this is a rare treat.
If you like your performances with audience interaction and multilayered narratives, then Toot, a collaboration between Claire Dunn, Terry O’Donovan and Stuart Barter, might just be for you. Expect music, games and lots of fun.
Latitude Festival is this weekend at Henham Park, Suffolk, – Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st July 2013. A limited amount of tickets are still on sale.
David Whelan is a fiction writer and journalist based in London, England. He was formally Litro's Reviews Editor and Fleeting Magazine's Interviews Editor. Currently, he writes for Vice's food vertical, Munchies. He is one of Untitled Books's "New Voices" and his fiction has also appeared in 3:AM Magazine, Shortfire Press and Gutter Magazine, among others. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from UEA.