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To purchase books, click on the links beside each title below and on the programme page

Lit Fest Online 2020 – The Great Escape

In a time of crisis, books offer an escape from ourselves and from external reality. And while we may not be going anywhere in the physical world at the moment, they can still enable us to travel in our imaginations, promoting empathy and understanding by connecting us to other lives and other places.

In response to the cancellation of all festivals and bookshop events for the next few months, the Authors’ Club has decided to launch LitFest Online. The event will take place over three days from Friday 15 May to Sunday 17 May, to showcase fiction, memoir and travelogues published during the Coronavirus lockdown.

John Walsh, President of the Authors’ Club, introduces Lit Fest Online 2020:

Lit Fest Online 2020

The 12 author interviews will go live at the times specified below. The 20-minute videos will then be permanently archived on our YouTube channel. For further details of each event, visit the full programme and click on the authors’ names to view the talks.

We also have six poets reading from their work, and the Jhalak Prize shortlistees and Best First Novel Award shortlisted authors reading from their books for people to browse while waiting for the interviews to go live.

Friday 15 May

  • Leonie Charlton chaired by C. J. Schüler – 4.30pm
  • Jacob Ross chaired by Sunny Singh – 5.30pm
  • Gerald Jacobs chaired by Georgia de Chamberet – 6.30pm
  • Robert Webb chaired by Laurel Lindström – 7.30pm

Saturday 16 May

  • Tim Finch chaired by Lucy Popescu – 4.30pm
  • C. J. Schüler chaired by Mary Novakovich – 5.30pm
  • Greg Jenner chaired by Sunny Singh – 6.30pm
  • Christina Lamb chaired by Lucy Popescu – 7.30pm

Sunday 17 May

  • Andrew Lycett chaired by John Walsh – 4.30pm
  • Michael Arditti chaired by Suzi Feay – 5.30pm
  • Hadley Freeman chaired by C. J. Schüler – 6.30pm
  • Amanda Craig chaired by Lucy Popescu – 7.30pm


Jhalak Prize
Readings online from 6pm, Friday 15 May: click here

Sunny Singh, novelist and co-founder of the Jhalak Prize, will present readings from the six works shortlisted for this year’s award for a book of any genre, published in the UK by a writer of colour. The shortlisted books are:

  • Dean Atta: The Black Flamingo​ (Hodder Children’s) rrp £7.99, hive price £7.65 
  • Yvonne Battle-Felton: Remembered​ (Dialogue) rrp £8.99, hive price £8.15
  • Candice Carty-Williams: Queenie​ (Orion) rrp £8.99, hive price £8.15
    read by Martina Laird
  • Mary Jean Chan: Fleche​ (Faber) rrp £10.99, hive price £8.45
  • Romesh Gunesekera Suncatcher (Bloomsbury) rrp £16.99, hive price £13.19 
  • Johny Pitts: Afropean: Notes From Black Europe (Allen Lane) rrp £10.99, hive price £9.39


Best First Novel Award
Readings online now: click here

There will also be video readings from the six novels shortlisted for the 2020 Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, introduced by the chair of judges, Lucy Popescu. The festival culminates on Sunday 17 May with the announcement of the winner of the Best First Novel Award, chosen by this year’s guest adjudicator, the novelist Andrew Miller.

  • Claire Adam reads from Golden Child (Faber & Faber) rrp £8.99, hive price £7.09
  • George Alagiah reads from The Burning Land (Canongate) Paperback will be published on 25 June and can be pre-ordered
  • Damian Barr reads from You Will Be Safe Here (Bloomsbury) rrp £8.99, hive price £7.95
  • Joanna Glen reads from The Other Half of Augusta Hope (Borough Press) rrp £8.99, hive price £7.95
  • T. J. Gorton reads from Only the Dead (Quartet) rrp £14.00, hive price £10.65
  • Beth O’Leary reads from The Flatshare (Quercus) £9.17 from Blackwell’s


Readings online from 4pm, Friday 15 May: click here




We will also hear a selection of poetry from (pictured l–r):

  • John McCullough
    John McCullough’s latest collection is Reckless Paper Birds, rrp £9.99, hive price £7.95
  • Martina Evans
    Martina Evans’s latest collection is The Windows of Graceland (Carcanet), rrp £12.99, £11.69 from the publisher
  • Roy McFarlane
    Roy McFarlane’s latest collection is The Healing Next Time, rrp £9.99, hive price £7.95
  • Sue Hubbard
    Sue Hubbard’s latest book is the novel Rainsongs (Duckworth), £10.99 from Blackwell’s
  • Louis Jopling reads from his collection Floff
  • Deirdre Shanahan
    Deirdre Shanahan’s latest book is the novel Caravan of the Lost and Left Behind, rrp £8.99, hive price £6.58