Eleanor Catton at Manchester Literature Festival at Waterstones

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

Manchester Literature Festival's Spring trio of events at Waterstones Manchester Deansgate, City Centre 21 March 2023 Tickets from £8.00 — Book now

As part of its spring programme, Manchester Literature Festival welcomes Booker Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton back to the UNESCO City of Literature to introduce her ‘spectacular’ new novel Birnam Wood.

Ten years after propping open heavy doors with The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton returns with her third novel Birnam Wood, described as “a brilliant psychological thriller”.

Eleanor Catton’s debut novel The Rehearsal – written as her Master’s thesis – won the Betty Trask Award when it was published in 2008 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize; her second, The Luminaries, a historical epic about the New Zealand gold rush, became a global bestseller that was translated into 32 languages and adapted into a six-part television series for BBC2. She also wrote the screenplay for the 2020 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and, 10 years after propping open heavy doors with The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton returns with her third novel Birnam Wood, described as “a brilliant psychological thriller” that is again set in New Zealand (Catton was born in Canada and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand) and delves into many of the biggest themes of the day from climate change, land-grabbing and surveillance technology to power, corruption and the super-rich. The Guardian said: ‘Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton comes 10 years after The Luminaries and is worth the long wait. Full of wit, big ideas and the most beautiful writing, it’s the story of a group of guerrilla gardeners who clash with a billionaire prepper. I loved it.’

This special event is hosted by writer Kate Feld and presented in partnership with the Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester.

If you can’t wait, Manchester Literature Festival is also teaming up two distinctive authors and passionate readers Kit de Waal and Sebastian Barry on 7 March (7pm, Central Library, £10, £8 concessions). They’ll be discussing his new novel, Old God’s Time, described as a ‘powerful new tale of memory, love, mystery and reckoning’.

Here’s the cover blurb: ‘Recently retired policeman Tom Kettle is settling into the quiet of his new home, a Victorian castle overlooking the Irish Sea. For months he has barely seen a soul, catching only glimpses of his eccentric landlord and a nervous young mother who has moved in next door. But when two former colleagues turn up at his door with questions about a decades-old case, he finds himself pulled into the darkest currents of his past.’

One of Ireland’s finest storytellers, and the Laureate for Irish Fiction from 2018-2021, Sebastian Barry is the author of Days Without EndA Thousand MoonsA Long Long Way and The Secret Scripture, and twice winner of the Walter Scott Prize and the Costa Book of the Year. Kit de Waal is the author of the novels My Name is Leon and The Trick to Time and the memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes.

To celebrate World Book Day on 2 March (online from 9am, free), the bestselling, multi award-winning children’s author and illustrator Rob Biddulph has created a a fun, interactive, online show based on his new book. The Blue-Footed Booby is ‘a rollicking new rhyming tale of missing cakes and baking shenanigans’ available for Greater Manchester schoolchildren to access until 31 March via the Manchester Literature Festival website.

Manchester Literature Festival's Spring trio of events at Waterstones Manchester Deansgate, City Centre 21 March 2023 Tickets from £8.00 Book now

Where to go near Eleanor Catton at Manchester Literature Festival at Waterstones

City Centre
Bar or Pub
The Botanist

The Botanist on Deansgate, Manchester, does botanical cocktails and toothsome food with aplomb.

Manchester
Restaurant
KAI Deansgate

Kai is a Turkish restaurant on Deansgate, set up by the brains behind the well-regarded Zouk restaurant. Expect excellent mezze plates and an open grill that releases wonderful aromas throughout the venue.

Gaucho Manchester
Manchester
Restaurant
Gaucho Manchester

Based in a converted Methodist church, Gaucho is one of the best-looking restaurants in Manchester, with a steak-heavy menu to match.

City Centre
Restaurant
Côte Restaurant

Elegantly laid out with simple wooden tables and Burgundy-coloured banquettes, Côte in Manchester does brasserie food, and does it well.

City Centre
Restaurant
Lunya Manchester

Lunya is a Spanish and Catalan deli and restaurant in Manchester’s stunning Barton Arcade. The food is reliably fresh and the staff both charming and incredibly knowledgable.

Royal Exchange Theatre
City Centre
Theatre
Royal Exchange Theatre

The Royal Exchange is one of the most celebrated theatres in the country, highly regarded for both new writing and its take on the classics.

Bloom Cafe
Manchester
Bloom Cafe

Bloom Cafe is a stunning cafe based on Deansgate in Manchester, serving up an array of hot and cold drinks, including a range of CBD options.

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