New book festival celebrates Paisley's radical stories

New book festival celebrates Paisley's radical stories

Nikesh Shukla / credit: Mahtab Hussain

A new (rebel) voice is joining Scotland's chorus of fantastic book festivals, with guests including Nikesh Shukla, Val McDermid and John Byrne

A brand new book festival is coming to Paisley this February, bringing with it a host of big names and the theme Radical Voices and Rebel Stories. Celebrating Paisley's contribution to the Radical Wars of 1820 on their 200 year anniversary, the newbie on the festival scene is pulling in some heavyweight guests, including Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Kirsty Wark and many, many more.

This ambitious new programme is brought to us by Keira Brown and Jess Orr, a pair who are well placed to embark on this particular literary adventure. Jess Orr has a vast experience of programming book festivals, including Open the Door at Glasgow Women's Library and the Audacious Women's Festival, while Keira Brown brings in-depth commercial knowledge of the book industry as well as local knowledge of the creative writing and spoken word scene in Paisley.

Co-producer Brown explains, 'we were keen (along with Renfrewshire Leisure and Renfrewshire Libraries) to curate a programme that was unique to Renfrewshire and Paisley, yet dynamic and fresh, opening a space for discussion, debate and reading, as well as audience engagement and enjoyment.'

Audiences can look forward to everything from a gig from the irrepressible Fun Lovin' Crime Writers (Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre, Mark Billingham, Doug Johnstone, Stuart Neville), a conversation between Jenni Fagan, Kirstin Innes and Emma Jane Unsworth, who will be releasing three of the most hotly anticipated books from Scotland in 2020, and a Big Birthday Bash for John Byrne.

Highlights include the opening night event, Renfrewshire Rebels, which features an exclusive reading from Scottish radicalism author Maggie Craig, poetry from Renfrewshire born Jim Carruth, and music from Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Heir of the Cursed, and some very special events for children, including storytelling from Mara Menzies.

There are also several insightful panels for creating change for everyone, such as Breaking the Mould: Creating Disabled and Low-Income Access to Publishing, and a conversation between writer and editor of The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla, and Jay G Ying, co-founder of the BAME Scottish Writers Network.

Supported as part of Future Paisley and with backing from Renfrewshire Leisure and Renfrewshire Council, the festival will make use of lots of local venues, including Paisley Arts Centre as its hub and the Bull Inn pub, Piazza Shopping Centre and (most intriguingly) The Lagoon swimming pool.

Brown's hope is that this radical book festival 'will bring writers and audiences together in multiple venues across Paisley to not only reflect on the radical past, but also open the door to discuss the ideas and issues that will shape the future.'

Books have the power to change minds and soften hearts, but what rebellious stories and radical voices feature on Brown's book shelf? Everything from George Orwell and Charlotte Perkins Gilmore to Nikesh Shukla, Jackie Kay and Janice Galloway, with the latter three all appearing at the festival.

Paisley Book Festival, various venues around Paisley, Thu 20–Sat 29 Feb.

Paisley Book Festival

Paisley-based book festival with the theme Radical New Futures, which centres around the pandemic and our ability to be resilient, re-build and create new narratives.

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