Fascinating work at Charleston’s short story festival

Ali Smith. Picture by Sarah Wood

Ali Smith. Picture by Sarah Wood

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Ali Smith, winner of this year’s Small Wonder Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, will kick-start Charleston’s short story festival on September 28 (5.30pm), with her own homage to the library service, one of the country’s most cherished and threatened public institutions.

Ali, famed for her inventive novels and stories, will read from her campaigning collection Public Library and Other Stories and will discuss her work with Cathy Galvin, a member of the Award’s Advisory Panel.

Juliet Stevenson

Juliet Stevenson

The opening day of the festival will be followed at 7.30pm by two young Irish writers, Kevin Barry – famous for his blackly comic work – and Lisa McInerney, who began her career blogging about working class life on a Galway council estate.

The five-day event includes creative writing workshops led by Tony Bradman and Kate Clanchy and showcases some of the great exponents of short fiction, including Sophie Hannah, Roald Dahl, Petina Gappah, Lionel Shriver and Salley Vickers. There is a chance to hear some of the shortlisted stories in this year’s BBC National Short Story Award, to share true-life accounts by asylum seekers in this country, to cheer on contestants in the traditional Friday night Slam and watch a literary death match played out between four Small Wonder writers. The festival culminates in a celebration of the hit anthology Poems that Make Grown Women Cry, compiled by Anthony and Ben Holden working with Amnesty International. A selection of poems will be read by actress Juliet Stevenson.

Visit charleston.org.uk/smallwonder or call 01273 709709. There is a shuttle bus between Lewes railway station and Charleston.

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