Virtual Chorlton Book Festival 2020

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Author Okechukwu Nzelu.
Author Okechukwu Nzelu.

19 — 25 September 2020 Entrance is free — Visit now

The 16th Chorlton Book Festival heads online to offer a mix of free online webinars and Q&As, performance poetry, readings by award-winning authors, specially commissioned video, and a strong line-up for children and young adults.

Throughout the week, there will be talks by children’s and YA authors, including Ruth Estevez, Anna Mainwaring, Louisa Reid and Marie Basting, who writes funny fiction for children aged 7+ and whose debut novel, Princess BMX, was listed as one of the Guardian and BookTrust’s best new books. Joining them is Nathan Byron, actor and author of the Waterstones Book of the Year Look Up! and its, er, follow-up, Clean Up!, which sees science-mad Rocket on a mission to save an island from a sea of plastic.

Hailed by Booker Prize-winning Bernardine Evaristo as “smart, serious and entertaining”, teacher Okechukwu Nzelu’s debut novel The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney follows teenager Nnenna Maloney as she approaches adulthood in Manchester

Our highlight is perhaps Polari Prize shortlistee Okechukwu Nzelu, who we were due to hear from in March at both the Writers at Manchester Met event with Not The Booker contender Sarah Butler and again at the Words Weekend festival – of course, both ended up being cancelled. So this is your chance! Also up for Betty Trask and Desmond Elliott awards, and hailed by Booker Prize-winning Bernardine Evaristo as “smart, serious and entertaining”, teacher Okechukwu Nzelu’s debut novel The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney follows teenager Nnenna Maloney as she approaches adulthood in Manchester and longs to connect with her half-Nigerian roots.

The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney cover
The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney cover

Praised in Metro for its “zingy, insightful observational comedy” and described by Manchester Writing School’s Andrew McMillan as “a magnificent novel, full of wit, warmth and tenderness”, in 2015 the manuscript saw Okechukwu win a New Writing North Award to help him finish it – which he did, publishing it last year with Dialogue. The Guardian calls the book “a vivid picture of people seeking security and identity in the maze of modern-day England. This is fiction as sculpture: skilfully paring down a scene to reveal the shape of the pain hidden within. Jonathan’s search for validation, and Nnenna’s drive to create an identity for herself, are moving and relatable stories, intimately told.” Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams says: “I haven’t been able to put it down… Okechukwu Nzelu has effortlessly captured the tricky nuance of life, love, race, sexuality and familial relationships.” This event, on Sunday 20 September (6.30pm), is free but ticketed.

On Monday 21 September (8pm), Flapjack Press presents The People’s Republic of Mancunia: A Mixed Media Book Launch, celebrating Rik Jundi’s reportage-style photography and performance poetry from contributing editor Paul Neads and award-winning poets including Marvin Cheeseman, Rosie Fleeshman, Joy France, Dave Morgan, Henry Normal, Steve O’Connor, Gerry Potter, Alex Slater, copland smith, Laura Taylor, Dave Viney and Geneviève L Walsh.

The People's Republic of Mancunia book cover
The People’s Republic of Mancunia book cover

Tuesday 22 September (7pm) brings together three writers of Northern Noir to discuss why the north and Manchester in particular lends itself so well as a backdrop to crime fiction and murder stories. The panel consists of divorce lawyer-turned-best-selling thriller writer Caroline England, Paul Finch, a former police officer and scriptwriter, now the creator of the Heck series of novels, and Chris Simms, creator of deeply unsettling novels featuring DI Jon Spicer, DC Sean Blake and DC Iona Khan.

See the Chorlton Book Festival website for the full programme of events.

19 — 25 September 2020 Entrance is free Visit now

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