Dear friends and literature lovers,
Cancellations of literary festivals are going to hit authors, publishers and booksellers hard with lost earnings and lost sales. One way we can help our favourite writers during this crisis is to share, celebrate and buy their work, which is why we have launched our online festival “hub”. We’ll be sharing links from our writers, including to their books, their journalism, their talks and podcasts… and we would encourage you to order their books from Bristol’s Storysmith shop to support local literary business.
So sit back, imagine yourself in the Watershed, and discover our amazing writers!
Virago Press: balancing purpose and profit in feminist publishing
You can access D-M Withers’ workshop research online, and also order their book The Feminist Revolution, written with Bonnie J Morris from Virago. D-M Withers is also a publisher and writer, and in the band Bellies.
The Launch Party
Featuring Shagufta Iqbal, Rebecca Kosick, Malaika Kegode, Janne Teller and Karolina Ramqvist.
Shagufta Iqbal‘s collection Jam Is For Girls is one of the most important books I’ve read and blurbed – you can buy it direct from Burning Eye. You can listen to her Tedx Talk and watch her perform her Jam is for girls, girls get jam.
Hadley Freeman discusses House of Glass
You’ve all seen the reviews which are glowing in every way. You can buy Hadley Freeman’s extraordinary memoir of her family, House of Glass – and while you’re there check out Be Awesome as well as Life Moves Pretty Fast which she talks about here.
Writing the news
We need brilliant, forensic and diverse journalism more than ever and these fabulous women provide it.
Anoosh Chakelian‘s excellent reporting explores the issues caused by austerity, something which is perhaps even more important as we move forward with this crisis. Her latest piece looks at the situation for vital but often exploited workers who will be pivotal in fighting the pandemic.
My (Sian) amazing editor Nandini Archer has exposed some of the most shocking examples of healthcare misinformation targeting vulnerable women. You can listen to her talk about her latest global report into crisis pregnancy centres on Woman’s Hour.
Coco Khan explores gender, race, community, family – she’s funny and fabulous and you can also read her in The Good Immigrant and in It’s Not About the Burkha. Back in 2017 she talked to Hay Festival about ideas that matter.
Bidisha has been an awesome support for the festival from day one – in fact she is the reason the festival exists. So do what you can to support her work, from buying her books to watching her incredible film.
We were really excited to add Colombian and London based journalist Camille Mijola to our line-up as part of an initiative to support an emerging journalism talent – sadly we couldn’t in the end but you can read her articles, she specialises in exposing Red Pill culture.
Women Writing Today
It’s a tricky time for debut writers like Rosanna Amaka, who has an extraordinary novel represented by Bristol’s very own Good Agency. Treat yourself to her Book Of Echoes.
We were so excited to welcome Naomi Wood back to Bristol but instead, escape with her to Paris and the riviera and Key West with Mrs Hemingway, or to Germany on the brink of crisis, with The Hiding Game.
The wonderful Sarah LeFanu has been a great support to us all here at BWLF since the beginning and a champion of women’s writing since her days at the Women’s Press and before. Her new book Something of Themselves is worth your time.
Viv Groskop lifts us all up!
Writing our lives
Clover Stroud‘s memoir of motherhood, My Wild And Sleepless Nights, has received rave reviews for its honesty and rawness – while The Wild Other is a book of outdoors, loss, family, just what we need for right now. Watch this 2017 interview with Clover, following the publication of The Wild Other.
You can watch live interviews with Clover and a range of great writer on her Instagram @clover.stroud every Tuesday at 830pm, and Friday at 1.30pm.
Zeba Talkhani‘s debut is a memoir exploring how she found herself as a Muslim feminist.
A novelist, essayist and explorer of auto-fiction, Olivia Sudjic’s Exposure looks at anxiety while her novel Sympathy reflects on our social media existence. You can watch Olivia discuss Exposure in this fascinating video.
Professor Helen Taylor on why we read fiction
Professor Helen Taylor has been a huge support for the festival from day one – speaking at our events and chairing panels. She’s been an absolute rock and inspiration since I first tentatively explored the idea in 2012. Her book, Why Women Read Fiction, is a thought-provoking delight. She’s also written about women’s relationship with Gone With The Wind.
Women in translation
Thank you to translator extraordinaire Rosalind Harvey for curating this panel. She’s translated books by Juan-Pablo Villalobos and Guadalupe Nettel, and is a founder of the Emerging Translators Network.
You can buy the first ever book by a female writer from Equatorial Guinea translated into English direct from Feminist Press – it’s La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono and translated by Lawrence Schimel. This 50 minute film gives you an insight into her writing of the book.
Olivia Hellewell has translated so many books that make our culture richer as we celebrate stories from elsewhere – including Goran Vojnović, The Fig Tree and Jela Krečič, None Like Her – and she runs workshops and speaks regularly at events. In fact, here she is giving a workshop at the British Centre for Literary Translation.
Writing the wild
The wonderful Laura Keeling curated this fantastic panel, and has been such an incredible support to me and to the festival since we met way back in 2015 at a Shakespeare & Company event with Joanna Walsh.
Walking in the woods is still something we can do even during these dark times. Sara Maitland‘s Gossip from the Forest is an extraordinary blending of nature writing, social history and the folkloric. Her other books include A Book of Silence, and Moss Witch. Watch Sara talk landscape, place and silence.
Bristol’s very own Zakiya McKenzie was the writer in residence for the Forestry Commission and you can see the work she produced for her residency here. Her audio essay on nature and people for Nightwaves gives you a beautiful insight into her storytelling.
Isabel Hardman‘s forthcoming The Natural Health Service explores the links between being outdoors and mental health – another book for our times! Her first book, Why We Get The Wrong Politicians is also out now (best not say too much about its relationship to our times right now!). Back in 2016 she talked to Clare Balding about nature and depression.
Chair Dr Samantha Walton is a poet, academic and writer whose work on Nan Shepherd is truly inspiring. You can see her talking about Shepherd on BBC’s Winterwatch and buy her poetry from Boiler House Press.
We’ll continue to update this page with news, performances, publications and essays from our writers. So make sure you come back for more!