English PEN Modern Literature Festival 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.


Reading Order:

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


Saturday 1 April 2017, Venue One, Rich Mix, London: 2pm / 4pm / 7.30pm – Entrance Free but English PEN membership appreciated.

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A Place Free Of Judgement—video

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.


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Buy the A Place Free Of Judgement book—featuring an exclusive YA novella ‘Zombies Ate My Library’—direct from Blast Theory’s shop.

Coming soon: Zombies Ate My Library!



A Place Free Of Judgement book launch and knowledge sharing event: Tue 21 February 2017, 11:00 – 16:00. Southwater Library, Southwater Square, Southwater Way, Telford, TF3 4JG. Bookings and more info here.

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Pre-order the A Place Free Of Judgement book, featuring my exclusive YA novella ‘Zombies Ate My Library’ (orders ship 22 February 2017)

A Place Free Of Judgement — launch eflyer

More on this shortly, but here is the eflyer for a launch and sharing event about Blast Theory’s and my libraries project A Place Free Of Judgement, which will be held in Telford’s Southwater Library on 21 February.


Blast Theory and I will be there, and we’re launching the A Place Free Of Judgement book. Here’s the blurb:

During 2016 Blast Theory and acclaimed author Tony White worked with a group of 30 young people in libraries in Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire, to re-imagine libraries, story telling and their place in the world. On 29 October 2016, over the course of 9 hours from 3pm to midnight, the young people then took control of their local libraries, and performed live to a worldwide audience, via an interactive live stream, broadcasting from each library in turn.

This book is a result of that process.

A Place Free of Judgement includes Tony White’s specially commissioned novella for Young Adult (YA) and general readers, ‘Zombies Ate My Library’, which was performed as a series of readings by White during the live stream on 29 October, and which draws on ideas, conversations and off-cuts that emerged in the workshops and during the development of A Place Free of Judgement.

Zombies Ate My Library’ follows the lives of four young people in the West Midlands—Alice, Gareth, Tommy and Rukhsana—as they plot a sleepover in a haunted library. What could possibly go wrong?

The book is available to pre-order direct from Blast Theory now, and will ship on the 22nd February 2017.


Tue 21 February 2017, 11:00 – 16:00. Southwater Library, Southwater Square, Southwater Way, Telford, TF3 4JG. Bookings and more info here.

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Pre-order the A Place Free Of Judgement book, featuring my exclusive YA novella ‘Zombies Ate My Library’ (orders ship 22 February 2017)


Resonance fundraisers – live in February 2017

resonancelogolargeSome readers may be aware that I chair the board of directors of London’s brilliant and award-winning arts radio station Resonance FM. I am proud to support this incredible project.

If you don’t know it, Resonance is a groundbreaking 24/7 radio station which broadcasts on 104.4 FM to central London, DAB to Greater London, nationally on Radioplayer and live streamed to the rest of the world. Realised by a dedicated community of volunteer engineers and programme-makers, Resonance offers over 100 creative broadcast series every week featuring local and international artists, makers and experts. Resonance seeks to discover, encourage and support a diverse range of artistic voices through radio – from first-timers to seasoned broadcasters. Kindly supported by the generous donations of its listeners and by key partners including Arts Council England and The Wire, Resonance collaborates widely with visionary individuals and organisations including V&A Museum, Mixcloud, The Science Museum, The Arts & Culture Unit, Merge Festival, and Radia.

Resonance’s annual fundraiser runs from 11–19 February 2017. Here is their newsletter listing just some of the events taking place. Hope to see you there ;)

Dear Resonance listener,

We’re sharing news of an exciting programme of live events all taking place as part of our Annual Fundraiser: a range of great concerts and our Resofit stand up comedy special, all happening across London between 11 and 19 February, with something (we hope) for everybody. Full details of these and much more is on our Fundraiser website, updated regularly throughout the next fortnight. Below are the Fundraiser live event essentials.

rienakjimaGwaith Sŵn’s Sonic Art Gala   |  Aces & Eights Tufnell Park NW5 2HP  |  Sat 11 February at 8pm
An all-star evening of radical sound art, improv & radiophonia. Featuring Rie Nakajima & Ken Ikeda + Phil Minton + Viewfound & Daniel R Wilson + Dan Linn-Pearl & Paul TQ Freeman. Tickets here.

Wavelength Roadshow  |  Kansas Smitty’s Hackney E8 4PH  |  Mon 13 February at 7pm
Join William English for a live extended edition of Wavelength with legendary performance artist Bob Parks (conceptual R&B, voodoo), Adham Fisher & other guests from the cult underground. Tickets here.

Club Integral Valentine’s Day Special  |  Iklectik Lambeth SE1 7LG  |  Tues 14 February at 7.30pm
Fourteen acts, each playing for fourteen minutes, courtesy of the Home of the Uncategorisable that is Club Integral – in a presentation with Resonance FM’s Is Black Music. Tickets on the door.

fwe1Scratch Orchestra All Stars  |  Cafe OTO Dalston E8 3DL  |  Weds 15 February at 7.30pm
Members of the legendary Scratch Orchestra come together for a rare night of mind-boggling musical anarchy – including John Tilbury, Stefan Szczelkun, Dave Smith, Hugh Shrapnel, Michael Parsons, Bryn Harris & Resonance FM’s Sound Out anchor Carole Finer. Tickets here.

Tin Can Review Live!  |  Aces & Eights Tufnell Park NW5 2HP  |  Fri 17 February at 7pm
Acoustic/Americana showcase with James Hodder of Resonance FM’s Tin Can Review introducing (and supporting) acclaimed songsmiths Ady Johnson + Hannah Rose Platt. Tickets here.

stewart_lee_2015_colin_huttonforresofitResofit  |  Leicester Square Theatre Soho WC2H 7BX  |  Sun 19 February at 3.30pm
Stand up comedy matinee with Daniel Kitson, Tony Law & Stewart Lee. Tickets here.

Nest Collective Takeover  |  Aces & Eights Tufnell Park NW5 2HP  |  Sun 19 February at 7pm
The city’s finest contemporary folk club and radio series – with  presents a very special night of radical/traditional song and performance. Tickets here.

Ulrich Schnauss + support  |  Silver Road Lewisham SE13 7BQ  |  Sun 19 February at 7pm
An intimate performance by the contemporary master of mesmerising electronica Ulrich Schnauss, (Tangerine Dream, Longview, Engineers) with SM-LL label acts en creux + Typeface. Tickets here.


Cover Gallery #4

It was a great thrill to have the cover of the first edition of my novel Foxy-T designed by Gray318, who at the time was fresh from the success of the dynamic, hand-painted (and by then ubiquitous) graphic he’d produced for Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, and who remains one of the best cover artists in the business. Interviewed for the Independent about his approach, Gray318 a.k.a. Jonathan Gray says,

Originally, design was very much about finding a lovely photograph for the jacket … I like creating more of a brand, a logo for the book. I’m a big fan of text, and of pushing that text to the limits of legibility. I don’t want to give a literal sense of the book’s subject, but more a flavour.

foxyt_demy_innertutuola-coverThe first edition of Foxy-T was produced in a jacketed demy paperback, and Gray318 produced a stark graphic that picked up on themes from the opening pages of the novel by mixing a hand-drawn, graffiti-like, marker-pen treatment of the names of the novel’s two main characters—Foxy-T and Ruji-Babes—with the title and (my) name floating in bold and narrow sans serif caps that appear to be cut or fractured along a couple of axes, as if in a rough collage. In a final, romantic detail, the ‘O’ of ‘FOXY-T’ contains two vertical hearts, slightly reminiscent of (although more slenderly-drawn and closer together than) the Papermate pen logo; a device that perhaps brings together the relationship at the heart of the novel and the neat, felt-pen tags seen in its opening paragraph.

faber-sf-coverThere are two colour schemes: the cover itself has white-out graffiti and hearts on a red ground with black title floating across the central third, while the paper dust jacket (below) in which the book is wrapped features red graffiti on a yellow ground with black title identically placed. The finishing touch is that the hearts on the dust jacket are picked out in red foil.

At the time, Gray318’s stark designs with their monochrome grounds reminded me of the simple typographic covers on Faber paperbacks of old: novels by the likes of Lawrence Durrell and Amos Tutuola. I loved—and still love—that the design of a contemporary Faber novel could make a connection with the house’s rich heritage of typographically-based cover art in this way.


This all came to mind recently, when I met up with Lee Brackstone, my editor at Faber and Faber, to go through the edits on my forthcoming novel. I don’t yet know what we’ll be doing for the cover of The Fountain in the Forest, but watch this space.

Incidentally, if like me you are into this kind of thing, there’s a great coffee table book of Faber and Faber cover design put together by the novelist Joseph Connolly.


Buy Foxy-T direct from Faber and Faber

16047-books-origjpgPraise for Foxy-T

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Buy Faber and Faber: Eighty Years of Book Cover Design, by Joseph Connolly

The Holborn Cenotaph

Last time I gave a reading of this satirical short story — at Bow Arts on 1 December — there were 1,583 names on ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’. Now, today, there are 1,594.holbcenotourt2016final

Listen to ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ live on the Speakers’ Corner stage at London Radical Bookfair, Goldsmith’s, University of London, 7 May 2016.


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I am always happy to hear from anyone about a reading or a talk. So do feel free to get in touch. (For more info see this note about bookings.)