Andrew McMillan launch at Central Library

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Andrew McMillan. Photo Urszula Soltys
Andrew McMillan. Photo Urszula Soltys.

PITY - Andrew McMillan in conversation with Joe Stretch at Manchester Central Library, Manchester 15 February 2024 Tickets from £5.00 — Book now

Award-winning poet and professor of poetry at Man Met, Andrew McMillan’s much-anticipated debut novel Pity is upon us, and he’ll be on tour around the UK throughout February, with the Manchester launch hosted by Blackwell’s Bookshop at Central Library.

Described as “stunning” and “magnificent”, Pity – out with Canongate on 8 February – is set across three generations of a South Yorkshire mining family. Exploring community, masculinity and post-industrialisation in Northern England, the short novel is a lament for a lost way of a life as well as a celebration of resilience and the possibility for change.

CT fave Jon McGregor says: “We already knew that Andrew McMillan could turn a phrase. With his debut novel, he also shows us a rare gift for storytelling. Pity digs deep into the heart and history of South Yorkshire and brings out the black gold of love, longing and loss. A triumph.”

Lanny author Max Porter – seen opening Manchester Literature Festival 2023 – says: “Pity pays a great poet’s tough but tender attention to the unspoken layers and historic fissures which lie beneath the wounded town of the self. This beautiful book about the marks that are left on people and places in turn leaves a deep empathic mark on the reader.”

Black Country writer Liz Berry says: “Pity is as tough, glittering and multilayered as the coal upon which it rests. With lyrical prose and deep tenderness, Andrew McMillan beautifully explores the complex hauntings of love and grief across generations.”

Here’s a little more about the book: “The town was once a hub of industry. A place where men toiled underground in darkness, picking and shovelling in the dust and the sleck. It was dangerous and back-breaking work but it meant something. Once, the town provided, it was important, it had purpose. But what is it now? Brothers Alex and Brian have spent their whole life in the town where their father lived and his father, too. Still reeling from the collapse of his personal life, Alex, is now in his middle age, and must reckon with a part of his identity he has long tried to mask. Simon is the only child of Alex and had practically no memory of the mines. Now in his twenties and working in a call centre, he derives passion from his side hustle in sex work and his weekly drag gigs.”

Andrew McMillan was born in Barnsley in 1988. His debut collection of poetry, physical, was “the sort of once-in-a-generation debut that causes everyone to sit up and take notice”, according to Sarah Crown. physical was the only poetry book to ever win the Guardian First Book Award; it was also awarded a Somerset Maugham award, an Eric Gregory Award, the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and in 2019 was voted as one of the Top 25 Poetry Books of the Past 25 Years by the Booksellers Association. His second collection, playtime, won the inaugural Polari Prize. A third collection, pandemonium, was published in 2021 and in 2022 he co-edited the acclaimed anthology 100 Queer Poems, which was shortlisted in the British Book Awards. He is professor of contemporary writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Andrew will be in conversation with Joe Stretch, his colleague at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing School, and who himself can be seen reading a specially commissioned story for the Stockport Stories project: at Rare Mags on 11 April and at Mura Ma Gallery on 20 April.

PITY - Andrew McMillan in conversation with Joe Stretch at Manchester Central Library, Manchester 15 February 2024 Tickets from £5.00 Book now

Where to go near Andrew McMillan launch at Central Library

St Peters Square Manchester
City Centre
St Peter’s Square

St Peter’s Square is a public space in Manchester – home to the city’s iconic library, town hall, Pankhurst statue, art gallery and famous Midland Hotel.

Manchester Art Gallery. Photo by Andrew Brooks
City Centre
Manchester Art Gallery

The Charles Barry-designed, Grade I-listed Manchester Art Gallery is one of the city’s leading galleries and is back open for visitors once more.

The Alan

This high-end city-centre restaurant has an excellent afternoon tea option that more than matches up to the superb main menu.


1847 Manchester is an excellent vegetarian restaurant in the centre of town.

Salut Wines
Bar or Pub
Salut Wines

Salut wines pride themselves in offering “wider horizons beyond the safe choices.” With 42 wines by the glass and a regularly changing selection of bottles in their Enomatic wine preservation machines (or  “wine jukebox,” as they’re colloquially known), this is one of be best bars in Manchester for exploring new vintages.

City Centre
Event venue
3Space Manchester

The building consists of five floors of 10,000sqft in an L shape configuration – three of which are open-plan and the other two floors are divided into studio size spaces.


Latest branch of Friska, the independent healthy fast food chain.

Don Giovanni

Traditional Italian restaurant, serving everything from pizza to steak. All this in a large modern venue with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Manchester Art Gallery Cafe

Summery bakes, seasonal salads and fresh light meals at Manchester Art Gallery’s in-house café, courtesy of highly-regarded Head Chef Matthew Taylor.

City Centre
Tourist Attraction
Manchester Town Hall

Re-opening in 2024, Manchester Town Hall is a monument to Victorian Manchester’s ambition, and one of the city’s most-loved landmarks.

City Centre
Tourist Attraction
Albert Square

A public square in the heart of Manchester which plays hosts to festivals and major events. Home to the Albert Memorial and statues of Bishop James Fraser, John Bright, Oliver Heywood and William Ewart Gladstone.

What's on: Literature

Ian Humphreys
LiteratureWest Yorkshire
Poetry at the Dusty Miller

Poetry at the Dusty Miller is a brand-new night with invited readers, organised by Carcanet-published Carola Luther and Judith Willson in the Coiners’ Room in the Mytholmroyd pub.

free entry
Writer Gaynor Jones
Weird Women at Levenshulme Old Library

To mark International Women’s Day, Levenshulme Old Library has pulled together a programme of activities called Weird Women, which includes Unheim-Lit, a showcase of strange and uncanny spoken word.

free entry

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.