Manchester Literature Festival online

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Rachel Long.

23 — 25 October 2020 Tickets from £5 — Book now

It’s all change this year as Manchester Literature Festival goes digital and reduces itself down to a tasty jus of 16 online events during its weekend celebration of words, running Friday 23 to Sunday 25 October. Tickets for #MLF20 are now available to book via the MLF website, with the menu dishing up leading writers and the literary stars of tomorrow, from the local scene to the international stage. Says MLF: “Our shared humanity has never been clearer. This year’s Manchester Literature Festival celebrates this connection through stories that deserve to be heard, voices that call for change, and powerful expressions of hope and resilience.”

We’re looking forward to hearing from Daisy Johnson and Sophie Mackintosh, hosted by the Centre for New Writing’s Jeanette Winterson. Author of short story collection Fen, Daisy Johnson’s debut novel, Everything Under, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018, when she was not yet 30, making her (beside Eleanor Catton) the youngest nominee in the prize’s history – Sophie Mackintosh’s debut The Water Cure was up for the gong the same year. The pair will be reading extracts from and discussing their latest novels – described as “powerful and disturbing” – Sisters and Blue Ticket respectively.

Jackie Kay hosts a Picador showcase featuring Raymond Antrobus, Jericho Brown, Rachel Long and Safiya Sinclair – “four prominent Black poets who speak powerfully to our present moment”

The #MLF20 programme also includes performances courtesy the new Manchester Poetry Library, work in translation, activities for families to enjoy together plus two partnership projects, including the participatory Poetry Exchange. Poet, playwright and recording artist Kae Tempest talks non-fiction with acclaimed author Max Porter, 2020 Booker Prize shortlistee Maaza Mengiste discusses her process with former Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Kamila Shamsie, and legendary writer, campaigner and civil rights activist Angela Davis is in conversation with poet and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay.

Jackie Kay, also a Patron of MLF, is then back to host a Picador showcase featuring Raymond Antrobus, Jericho Brown, Rachel Long and Safiya Sinclair – “four prominent Black poets who speak powerfully to our present moment and fuse the personal with the political”. Ted Hughes Award-winning Raymond Antrobus will read new work alongside poems from his debut collection The Perseverance, US poet and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry Jericho Brown will present work from his collection, The Tradition, and Jamaican poet Safiya Sinclair will read from Cannibal.

British poet Rachel Long, meanwhile, will gives us a flavour of My Darling from the Lions – currently shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and described by Stylist as “the modern poetry we need to read right now”. Man Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other, heaps on the praise: “An enchanting and heartwarming new voice in poetry.” Not to be missed.

23 — 25 October 2020 Tickets from £5 Book now

Where to go near Manchester Literature Festival online

Waterstones Leeds

Standing proudly on the busy shopping hub of Albion Street, Waterstones Leeds is a bookshop that also hosts a variety of events

Manchester Factory international Festival - People enjoying Festival Square in the city centre
Café or Coffee Shop
Factory Square

Factory Square is a huge beer garden, on the banks of the River Irwell, with top-quality drinks and street food selections.


Modern Greek Mediterranean cuisine from the team behind Tattu.

Flat Iron Leeds
Flat Iron Leeds

Relaxed restaurant in Leeds serving impressively high-quality steaks at an affordable price point.


Odioba is a new audiophile bar in Stockport, from the team behind the much-missed NAM. Coffee shop by day, bar by night.

What's on: Literature

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AJ West
AJ West at Truman Books

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Rebecca Watson author photo
Rebecca Watson at Blackwells

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from £4.00

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.