Brighton Festival: strong global books and debate programme

2021 Nobel Prize for Literature winner leads global books and debate programme at Brighton Festival

Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen

Brighton Festival continues its reputation as an top platform for engaging discussion and lively debate with 35 books and debate events for all ages from May 7-29.

Spokeswoman Claire Andrews said: “Highlights include one of this year’s Festival Guest Co-Directors, Syrian architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni, examining the role architecture can play in generating community in a discussion around her latest book, Building for Hope on May 14. In a joint event with Charleston Festival 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Abdulrazak Gurnah will discuss the inspiration behind his work and childhood in Zanzibar on May 19; and former Brighton Festival Guest Director Michael Rosen, along with Cressida Cowell and A.M. Dassu are among the authors exploring their latest books and sharing inspiration via our Young Readers programme from May 7-29.

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The online COP Conversations and Global Conversations series offer Brighton Festival audiences new perspectives on nature, identity and new realities for just £5 a ticket. The Change our Planet (COP) series is inspired by references Marwa Al-Sabouni makes to generational differences in Building for Hope. Brighton Festival will explore the potential for finding revolutionary solutions via an inter-generational approach, with conversations including Trafik author Rikki Ducornet and Libia Brenda, literature critic and the first Mexican woman nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award for the anthology A Larger Reality/Una realidad más amplia, which she edited.

This year’s Global Conversations will enable dialogue across borders between some of the most creative minds on the planet, including Ghanaian architect Cecil Abbey in conversation with Asian-British architect, Kieren Majhail about cities of the future on May 21. In Moving Spaces, UK author Anita Sethi joins celebrated Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng on May 15 to explore ideas of belonging, and how our natural environments shape our life experiences.

The Festival of Ideas returns in partnership with the University of Sussex and the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), via a series of thought-provoking screenings and discussions which explore new ways of thinking about the past, present and future. The series includes the untold story of 1990s anarcho-pop band Chumbawamba in I Get Knocked Down on May 18 and Making Space, a panel discussion on May 16 which explores some of the imaginative ways curators, artist and activists have used to address cultural inequality in public art institutions.

Discover the city through the eyes of its youngest inhabitants with The Book of Brighton & Hove on May 24. A guidebook like no other, this collaborative project written by 200 school children across the city reveals their favourite places, hopes and fears for the city at a time of great uncertainty. The project makes its debut at The Riwaq, a bespoke temporary arts space based at Hove Lawns hosting an eclectic programme of free cultural and community events during the Festival.

In Thrones & Bones on May 16, Tasha Suri and Samantha Shannon, authors of the popular Burning Kingdoms and Bone Season series respectively, read from their work and discuss how speculative fiction can help us navigate the value of human life, justice, and the fear of the unknown.

On May 21, acclaimed writer Leone Ross shares from her atmospheric novel This One Sky Day (longlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Women's Prize). Its memorable characters live in the pink sunset world of Popisho, held in check by the Fatidique, an incredibly funky council of female visionaries. In conversation with Naana Orleans-Amissah, creative strategist and host of the IG series found, ART, Leone shares from her striking third novel and talks about how place creates reality.

Explore the full programme at

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