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    Festival Directors' Picks

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    The Death of Vivek Oji

    £12.99
    Recommended by Tamara Zimet (Deputy Programme Director)

    The Death of Vivek Oji is an exhilarating novel set in southeastern Nigeria by artist and writer Akwaeke Emezi.

    It has the hallmarks of a coming-of-age story but is unique in the way it wrestles with identity, sexuality, shame and its celebratory exploration of different forms of love.

    Not a Novel: Collected Writings and Reflections

    £14.99
    Recommended by Tamara Zimet (Deputy Programme Director)

    I first read German writer Jenny Erpenbeck on the recommendation of a colleague about five years ago.

    End of Days – her sixth novel – was enough to get me hooked and become a full-blown Erpenbeck evangelist.

    Julian at the Wedding

    £12.99
    Recommended by Rachel Fox (Children & Schools Programme Director)

    The beloved Julian of Jessica Love’s award-winning debut picture book returns in this beautiful book, also illustrated by Jessica herself, Julian at the Wedding.

    In Julian at the Wedding we have another fantastically inclusive and celebratory book, full of sumptuous drawings of what looks like an incredible party celebrating the marriage of two women. Its follows Julian and his adventurous cousin Marisol as they roam around the party and get up to a little magical mischief.

    When Life Gives You Mangoes

    £7.99
    Recommended by Rachel Fox (Children and Schools Programme Director) When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten has everything you want in a story. It has a deep sense of place, characters that you completely believe in, and a mystery that pulls at you all the way through. I read it cover to cover in one night.

    The Good Hawk

    £7.99
    Recommended by Rachel Fox (Children and Schools Programme Director) I read The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliot a while ago now and it has really stuck with me, I’d recommend it for both children and adults that like gripping fantastical adventure.

    Poor

    £9.99
    Recommended by Noelle Cobden (Communities Programme Director)

    In Poor, his first poetry collection, Caleb Femi gives the reader a snapshot of growing up Black, male and poor on a North Peckham housing estate.

    Part speaking truth to power, part love letter to his home Femi described the collection as ‘an ode to a troubled yet enchanted world, and the Black boys raised in it’.

    How to Be a Craftivist

    £10.99
    Recommended by Noelle Cobden (Communities Programme Director)

    In How to be a Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest, Corbett provides a brief history of craftivism alongside an in-depth manifesto and step by step guide to using craft as a form of protest.

    This book is a must for any armchair activists who want to take the next step but who aren’t quite ready to scale Buckingham Palace in a Superman costume…just yet.

    Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books

    £12.99
    Recommended by Nick Barley (Festival Director)

    Having always had her nose buried in a book, Cathy Rentzenbrink is someone whose life beyond that of her imagination ought to be nothing much to write home about. However, as anyone who has read her bestselling memoir The Last Act of Love will know, the tragic death of her brother Matty was an event that profoundly affected her – and continues to do so. What’s more, although it could never quell the pain, chronicling that awful experience also confirmed her as an exceptional memoirist, with the ability to recount stories of her life with style and panache.

    In Dear Reader, Rentzenbrink canters through her whole life to date, punctuating her experiences (including the time around Matty’s accident) with many of the books she read along the way. It’s a wonderfully engaging device, leaving readers with another captivating memoir and a stunningly diverse list of books to turn to in good times or bad.

    That Old Country Music

    £14.99
    Recommended by Nick Barley (Festival Director)

    Ever since he burst onto the Irish writing scene over a decade ago, Kevin Barry has entranced readers with his laconic humour, his amiable characters and his impeccable ability to tell stories. In recent years he’s been getting better and better, with his glorious recent novel Night Boat To Tangier earning him a place on the 2019 Booker longlist.

    One year on, Barry returns to his beloved short story form with That Old Country Music, a collection based on some oddly delicious (and sometimes deliciously odd) characters from County Sligo on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Each and every one of these stories is irresistibly readable, vividly conjuring mental images of lives and landscapes in such high resolution, you could project them on an Imax screen.

    The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi

    £12.00
    Recommended by Nick Barley (Festival Director)

    One of the greatest living African writers, perennial Nobel Literature Prize shortlister Ngugi Wa Thiong’o has created a richly enjoyable romp of a verse novel from the origin story of the Gikuyu people of Kenya.

    The Perfect Nine is an entertaining and fast-moving retelling of the myth that begins with Gikuyu (man) and Mumbi (woman), the archetypal father and mother of dazzlingly beautiful daughters known as the Perfect Nine – even though there are actually ten of them.

    Festival Directors' Picks