New online Sussex LGBTQ+ book group launches

New Writing South has launched a new online LGBTQ+ book group, initially to be run and hosted by Brighton & Hove-based Collected Works CIC.

Tomasz Jedrowski - (c) Kuba Dabrowski
Tomasz Jedrowski - (c) Kuba Dabrowski

Collected Works director Sarah Hutchings said: “The Hear Us Out Book Group is part of New Writing South’s Hear Us Out project, an online programme celebrating older LGBTQ+ people’s real-life stories. The group has been created so that LGBTQ+ members of the community can meet up, connect with others and find peer support, through a shared love of reading.

“The aim of the new book group is to continue Hear Us Out’s legacy, by providing a space where LGBTQ+ people can make new friends and connections, by discussing LGBTQ+ literature and stories.”

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The first few sessions will be facilitated by social enterprise Collected Works CIC.

Lesley Wood, director of New Writing South, added: “The Hear Us Out Book Group will not be like your average book group. Our friends at Collected Works will take all the hit-and-miss out of it as they curate some of the best, brightest new LGBTQ+ fiction for us to read and discuss.

“They will be inspiring, sometimes surprising, and always beautifully written books, to nurture tired souls and get us through the last of these lost lockdown months. Readers of all ages are warmly invited to join these companionable, uplifting sessions.”

Sarah added: “Initially, for the first few months, the book group will be run and hosted by Collected Works CIC, in partnership with New Writing South, with the hope that it will eventually become a peer-led group, where members choose the books each month. We will be there at the beginning to get the group going, provide support and encourage members to join.”

The first book chosen, to be read during March 2021, is Tomasz Jedrowski’s debut Swimming in the Dark, a novel, set in 1980s Poland, about youth, love, loss and the sacrifices we make to live lives with meaning.

The book group will begin with free monthly meet-ups via Zoom. The first get-together event, where members will discuss Swimming in the Dark, will be held at 6pm on Thursday, March 25 and is free and open to everyone.

“All you have to do is read the book which is just out in paperback. New Writing South has a limited number of free copies of Swimming in the Dark to give to those who cannot afford to buy their own.

“This includes audio and Kindle options. If required, please request a free copy when registering your interest.

“For more info, please visit the events page on the Hear Us Out website:

“To register interest in joining the group, complete the online form.”

Collected Works CIC is a Brighton & Hove-based social enterprise, dedicated to getting the community reading. The organisation’s projects and activities celebrate books, stories, authors and illustrators, promoting diversity and encouraging readers to engage with different types of books.

Tomasz Jedrowski was born in West Germany to Polish parents and studied law at Cambridge and the Universite de Paris.

He speaks five languages and currently lives in France with his husband. Swimming in the Dark is his first novel.