Things To Do

Jason Allen 13/07/21

At Last, The London Literature Festival Is Back

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

Truer words have never been spoken.

And to celebrate this fact, after pressing pause last year, the London Literature Festival is gearing up to mark its return to action with an eminently appropriate theme: friendship.

It’s all taking place at the Southbank Centre over an eleven-day stretch of late October, which will be stuffed full of talks, debates, performances, masterclasses, readings, and live podcast recordings. The lineup is so well curated that essentially everything feels like one of the highlights, but here are a choice few picks to give you an idea of what’s on offer:

1. Ai Weiwei will be waxing lyrical about his forthcoming memoir 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, in which he discusses his family’s tumultuous relationship with his country – how his father went from being China’s most celebrated poet, to being banished in the Cultural Revolution, and how he went from designing the stadium for the 2008 Olympics, to being secretly imprisoned without charge.

2. Jack Dee will be on hand to solve your problems as an Agony Uncle. Don’t worry, during lockdown he retrained online as a psychotherapist for four whole hours, and has a certificate and everything. He’ll be taking questions from the audience.

3. Tolani Shoneye, Audrey Indome and Milena Sanchez, creators & hosts of the hugely popular podcast The Receipts (the first podcast created by women of colour to hit No.1 in the Apple charts) will be launching their new book in a special live event.

4. There’ll be a premiere performance of Heaven by Mieko Kawakami, the highly acclaimed Japanese author. She’ll be putting on “an immersive reading like no other”, staged by the Artistic Director of Live Theatre Newcastle, which will involve actors & live musicians to help transport you to the book’s tranquil setting.

5. Grayson Perry is putting on “A Show For Normal People” in which he discusses the fact that, despite winning the occasional award, selling a lot of books, and appearing on telly, he’s actually also a normal person who is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.

6. Daisy May Cooper, creator and star of BAFTA award-winner This Country, will be launching her memoir Don’t Laugh, It Will Only Encourage Her. It was inspired by her mum’s advice during her darker years that “the worst experiences make the most entertaining stories”… and she has come away with a lot of entertaining stories.

7. You can also see the Booker Prize shortlisted authors live stream readings from their novels (and chat about them too), you can take a masterclass on poetry writing, see The Polari Prize awarded for LGBTQ+ writing, hear Michael Rosen and Kate Mosse tell stories about the NHS and so much more.

To reiterate, these are but a few choice canapés in an extremely large feast of literature that you’ll be able to tuck into when the festival rolls into town later this year – providing you’ve secured tickets in advance.


NOTE: The London Literature Festival takes place from Thursday 21st – Sunday 31st October 2021 at the Southbank Centre. Tickets are on sale now, and can be booked right HERE.

Southbank Centre | Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

If you’re there over the weekend and happen to need sustenance… you should pop into the Southbank Centre Food Market.

London Literature Festival

Belvedere Road, Southbank, SE1 8XX
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