The first event of 2022’s Clapham Book Festival took place yesterday on a gloriously sunny, autumn day on Clapham Common. Starting at Omnibus Theatre on the Northside a small but determined group of walkers spent two hours discovering and discussing Clapham’s literary connections, past and present. From Roger L’Estrange, the ‘Bloodhound of the Press’ to Malorie Blackman, Children’s Laureate, via novelists, biographers, historians, poets and Nobel prize-winners we had fun seeing where they lived and worked in Clapham.
So, we move on to next Saturday, our Showcase Day, which begins with a reprise of the walk (tickets are selling out fast) in the morning. In the afternoon we have Abir Mukherjee, author of the award-winning Wyndham and Bannerjee series of murder mysteries set in 1920s Calcutta, which begins with ‘A Rising Man‘ and runs to the most recent, ‘The Shadows of Men‘. Our intrepid heroes navigate the slums of ‘Black Town’, the genteel villas of Alipor, Chinese opium dens, the high politics of the Lieutenant Governor’s mansion and the low machinations of the secret service. Pre-independence India’s politics, religious and secular, feature in all the books which adds to their fascination.
Then at 5pm Elizabeth Buchan, local, best-selling novelist interviews Dame Jenni Murray. The veteran broadcaster – thirty years presenting Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour – and campaigner, discusses remarkable women through history, a life in the radio booth and her engagement with a number of high-profile causes. Never someone to shy away from a debate, this should be fascinating!
In the evening we have a real treat for history lovers and all those interested in today’s Russia and how it got to where it is now. The eminent and much garlanded Sir Antony Beevor discusses his latest book on Russia – ‘Russia: Revolution and Civil War 1917 – 1921′ – with Cambridge historian Dr Piers Brendon. Tickets for this are selling quickly, so I anticipate a full theatre and I’m not surprised, Sir Antony is always knowledgeable and insightful and Piers Brendon is the perfect person to draw out the historical parallels. Expect a treat.
But the Festival doesn’t end there. After our successful ‘hybrid’ festival of 2021 we have decided to continue with our zoom events (in partnership with Time & Leisure magazine). On Monday 17th October at 7pm I’ll be speaking with novelist West Camel. His debut novel ‘Attend‘ was listed for the Polari Prize and the Guardian’s ‘Not the Booker’, his second, ‘Fall‘ has recently been published. Then, on 22nd November another online event, discussing ‘Crossed Off the Map: Travels in Bolivia’ with prize-winning travel writer Shafik Meghji. I know very little about Bolivia, so this will be new and interesting for me. Both the zoom events cost only £5.
Omnibus Theatre is at No. 1, Northside, Clapham Common, closest tube station is Clapham Common. The walk starts from outside it at 10.30 am and should take two hours, wear walking shoes, ending at Clapham Common station. Lunch can be had at a variety of excellent establishments in the Old Town and then prepare to enjoy our events in the afternoon and evening. An All-Afternoon ticket is available at £45 (£35 concessions). Tickets at https://payhip.com/claphambookfestival See you there!