I’ve posted this ad from the Guardian books page (singular) in 1986 before, but I came across it again while sorting through some files and love the fact that a writer as confrontational and experimental as Kathy Acker would not only be described as one ‘with style, wit and narrative drive’ – all true of course – but also be a big enough draw to be the lead title (alongside books by Jonathan Meades, Thomas M. Disch, and Don Bloch) opening Paladin, a new paperback list from Grafton Books, by then a division of Collins.
I’ll be reading at London’s live literature night In Yer Ear, which is always a good night. The lineup includes Julia Bell, Gemma Weekes, JJ Bola, Alison Hitchcock, Dave McGowan and more.
I’ll be reading from my Blast Theory novella Zombies Ate My Library.
It’s on Tuesday 16 May at the King and Queen, 1 Foley Street, London W1 from 8pm — see you in Fitzrovia if you fancy coming along
Congratulations to all the winners at Saturday’s Saboteur Awards 2017, which was held at the amazing Vout-O-Reenee’s in London.
It was very exciting to have been nominated and then shortlisted. My novella with Blast Theory, Zombies Ate My Library, didn’t win in the ‘best novella’ category, but thank you to all the friends who voted for us. Everyone involved in the A Place Free Of Judgement project (that the novella came out of) has been very grateful for the support and the incredible feedback ;)
There was a great range of winners in all categories, for whom a Saboteur award will really make a difference.
I really enjoyed meeting everyone at the Preview Salon hosted by writer/performer Abi Palmer (long live the living room gig!) and at the ceremony on Saturday; many enjoyable conversations that I hope will be continued…
There was of course a well-stocked bookshop at the awards ceremony, and I was pleased to come away with a copy of ‘best anthology’ winner Remembering Oluwale, edited by SJ Bradley on Leeds’s Valley Press: a deserving winner.
Thank you, too, to Saboteur Awards founder Claire Trévien and the team for all their work on this important prize. With its focus on indie publishing, pamphlets, spoken word – and other under-served literary forms such as the novella – the Saboteur Awards scheme goes a long way towards addressing a huge gap in grass roots literary coverage.
I am delighted to discover that Zombies Ate My Library, my novella for the brilliant Blast Theory that comes out of our recent libraries collaboration A Place Free Of Judgement, has been shortlisted in the ‘Best Novella’ category of the Sabotage Reviews Saboteur Awards 2017.
N.B. Voting is now closed!
Some readers may have been along to the live readings from Zombies Ate My Library at Telford Southwater Library, Worcester St John’s Library, and Cannock Library, that took place as part of the A Place Free Of Judgement event and livestream on 29 October. In the past few weeks I have also given readings from the novella at Brixton Book Jam and the final Sylvia Plath Fan Club. Coming up in May, I’ll be reading from Zombies Ate My Library at In Yer Ear, London.
If you’d like to support Zombies Ate My Library and what has been a really exciting, long-term collaboration with Blast Theory, with 30 young people in Cannock, Telford and Worcester, and with libraries and librarians across the West Midlands, do please consider voting for it in the ‘best novella category’ here. (Update: N.B. Voting is now closed.)
There are many other great shortlisted projects to vote for also, so do support Sabotage Reviews in the important work that they do, covering emerging practice, small presses and spoken word.
ICYMI, here is our short film about A Place Free Of Judgement and Zombies Ate My Library.
Vote for Zombies Ate My Library in the Saboteur Awards 2017
It was a great honour to have been invited to write and to perform in solidarity with the persecuted Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji, for the English PEN Modern Literature Festival, at Rich Mix, London, on 1 April.
On 21 February 2016, Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for ‘violating public modesty’, following the publication of an excerpt from his novel Using Life in Cairo’s weekly literary magazine Akhbar al-Adab. On 22 December 2016, Egypt’s highest appeals court temporarily suspended Naji’s sentence, and he was released. A further hearing due to be held in Cairo on 2 April 2017 has now been adjourned until 7 May. This hearing will determine whether Naji will face another trial or be sent back to prison.
I conducted an interview with Ahmed Naji over Skype and email during the past couple of weeks, and presented an edited transcript of the interview at the Festival.
So here we are. First I’d like to thank Cat [Lucas of English PEN] and Steven [the poet SJ Fowler] and everyone, for organising this event. I know that such an activity can feel disappointing, especially for the organisers. It is not an easy world that we live in, and these are not easy times, so you’re doing all this work and supporting writers, for the love of literature and writing, and freedom of expression, but sometimes this offer, this support, goes unheard. Or that may be how it seems. But actually it does reach the ears of those writers around the world who are facing a critical time, and even if this offer doesn’t affect their legal situation, it can have a huge effect on their mood.
I mean in my case for example, when I was in prison, when my family came to visit with messages like this from outside, and they told me well this person has written about you, or we have received a letter from that person, this news affects your mood very well. Because in prison you are not allowed to be in touch with anything, and sometimes you feel that you have been forgotten. So to receive the news that someone has remembered you, this helps very much. And then, after you get out, to find such love and solidarity? It really helps you to recover from the traumas that you have experienced.
To coincide with the Festival and the court date, an extract of my interview was run on the Guardian newspaper’s books blog, Sunday 2 April.
A longer version of the interview, ‘Ahmed Naji’s Championship Breakfast’, is published on English PEN’s website.
Here — with thanks to English PEN Modern Literature Festival curator Steven J. Fowler — is a video of my reading at Rich Mix on 1 April 2017.
The English PEN Modern Literature Festival sees 30 contemporary UK-based writers present new works in tribute to writers at risk around the world at Rich Mix, London, on April 1st 2017. #penfestuk Visit www.englishpen.org. (See below for reading order).
Writers poets, novelists, playwrights and artists come together to continue English PEN’s relationship with innovative contemporary literature over an extraordinary day where each of the writers presented brand new poetry, text, reportage & performance on a day that celebrated and evidenced the struggle of fellow writers around the world, in solidarity.
Please join English PEN
You can join English PEN here http://www.englishpen.org/membership/join/ and if you are a writer, poet, artist, scholar, academic, reader or someone who is passionate about defending our fundamental freedom of expression in the UK and around the world, please take the time to do so and become a part of the future of this extraordinary organisation.
2pm to 3.30pm
Luke Kennard – Raif Badawi
Nisha Ramayya – Aseem Trivedi
Susie Campbell – Tsering Woeser
Lavinia Singer – Zhu Yufu
SJ Fowler – Waleed Abu Al Khair
Mischa Foster Poole – Alaa Abd El Fattah
Chloe Spicer – Dina Meza
Kate Wakeling – Nurmuhemmet Yasin
Denise Riley – Necmiye Alpay
4pm to 5.30pm
Hannah Silva – Narges Mohammadi
Rebecca Tamas – Ashraf Fayadh
matt martin – Amanuel Asrat
John Hall – Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace
Carol Watts – Aslı Erdoğan
Tom Jenks – Nabeel Rajab
Peter Philpott – Dawit Isaak
Camilla Nelson – Dareen Tatour
Rod Mengham – Mahvash Sabet
Zoë Skoulding – Sanjuana Martinez Montemayor
7.30pm to 9.30pm
Sasha Dugdale – Ahmet and Mehmet Altan
Simon Pomery – Nguyen Van Dai
Sandeep Parmar – Lydia Cacho
Nathan Jones – Zunar
Jeremy Noel-Tod – Nelson Aguilera
Chrissy Williams – The Al-Khawaja family
Tony White – Ahmed Naji
Larry Lynch – Oleg Sentsov
Matthew Welton – Tutul
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett – Liu Xia
Vahni Capildeo – The Douma 4
Following a fantastic book launch and knowledge sharing event at Telford’s Southwater Library on 21 February, Blast Theory have released this short video of our libraries project A Place Free Of Judgement.