Literary festival dedicated to short stories

The countdown has begun to one of the UK’s most unique literary events.

Small Wonder, the festival that celebrates the art of the short story, opens on September 25 in the great barn at Charleston near Lewes, and there is still a chance to grab tickets for some events.

Festival director Diana Reich has pulled together an amazing programme of speakers –­ names such as Margaret Atwood, Graham Swift, Rose Tremain and Edna O’Brien.

This year brings the famous Story Salon from central London to Sussex with Cathy Galvin hosting a night to remember with Joanna Briscoe, Joseph O’Neill and Alex Preston reading from their new books on September 25.

The hugely popular Small Wonder Slam, which gives local writers a chance to read from their work in front of a packed audience will be chaired by Brighton performance poet Lonny Pop on September 26. On the following day, the mood is strictly up-tempo when some of Brazil’s most distinguished writers take to the stage.

Rio Brio features debut novelist Tatiana Salem Levy ahead of the UK publication next year of A chave de casa, alongside author Joao Gilberto Noll and translator Lucy Greaves.

But the day begins with a reminder of the First World War when Brighton’s Neil Bartlett and fellow writer Louisa Young present Letters to an Unknown Soldier, in which they will talk about a project inviting the public to submit a personal letter to the statue of the unknown soldier at Paddington Station .

Later on Saturday there is an exclusive preview of the short­listed writers competing for this year’s BBC National Short Story Award and later in the day writer Michel Faber will be taking part in a unique session with multi­instrumentalist Andrew Liles, in which they combine edgy short stories with experimental music.

This year’s festival has been extended by an extra day to include the appearance of Margaret Atwood (October 1, 6pm) talking about her new collection of short stories and discussing her career with Naomi Alderman.

For tickets and information, visit www.charleston.org.uk, which also includes details of the free shuttle bus service to and from Lewes railway station.