Birmingham Literature Festival with Kit de Waal & Osman Yousefzada

Birmingham, the city that raised me: Kit de Waal & Osman Yousefzada

****PLEASE NOTE: the time of this event as printed in the programme is incorrect. The event is 7pm – 8pm. Oct 7th.****

Two memoirs set in the same part of Birmingham: geographically, very close – but culturally, miles apart.

Kit de Waal grew up to a white Irish mother and Black Caribbean father in 1960s Springfield, South Birmingham, with 4 siblings, not enough
food and huge expectations imposed by her Jehovah’s Witness mother. Not 3 miles away, 15 years later, Osman Yousefzada grew up in a
closed-off Pakistani immigrant community where everyone knew his and his family’s business and he and his siblings – especially
his sisters – were under permanent scrutiny.

Kit and Osman join us at Birmingham Literature Festival in the year both their memoirs have been published to talk about their childhoods in the city, their families, and how that set them on the track to stride out and break with expectations to forge their own careers and lives.

Chaired by Paul McVeigh

Sponsored by Newman University

About the speakers:

Kit de Waal is the author of the novels My Name is Leon, which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, and The Trick to Time, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and a short story collection, Supporting Cast. She is also editor of the Common People anthology, and co-founder of the Big Book Weekend festival. My Name is Leon was adapted as a one-hour film for BBC1, and broadcast in June 2022 to rave reviews.

Osman Yousefzada was born in Birmingham to migrant parents who are illiterate in English and their mother tongue. He is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who studied at SOAS and Central Saint Martins, and went on to obtain an MPhil at Cambridge University. He has exhibited at international institutions including the Whitechapel Gallery, Dhaka Art Summit, V&A and more. The Osman Yousefzada clothing line is worn by celebrities including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Lupita Nyong’o, Thandiwe Newton, Gwen Stefani, Emma Watson, Freida Pinto and many more.

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Appearing at Primadonna Festival with Joanne Harris & Kit de Waal

I’ll be chairing an event with Joanne Harris author of 20 novels & journalist, editor and interviewer Sarah Shaffi. Pretentious? Moi?! ‘In this light-hearted session, we look at the heavy-handed writers who allow their imaginations to be overruled by their egos, and think about how to avoid the pitfalls of authorial pretension.’

The second event also sounds like a lot of fun.

Dear Kit and Paul… ‘Need help? Why not join our literary agony Aunt and Uncle, Kit de Waal and Paul McVeigh as they offer advice and solutions to all of your writerly (and other) problems.’

You can buy your festival tickets here.

This year’s lineup includes Jordan Stephens of hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks; bestselling author and screenwriter Juno Dawson; podcaster Viv Groskop; screenwriter and author Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Suffragette, The Split); social media influencers Alex Light and Natalie Lee aka StyleMeSunday; superstar musician La Roux; multiple-award winning writer and Primadonna Kit de Waal; TV presenter and writer June Sarpong; Sunday Times bestselling-author Cathy Rentzenbrink; top crime writer Erin Kelly… and many more famous names and emerging talent from the world of books, entertainment and music. Plus walkabout Alice in Wonderland, late-night disco sessions, pop-up dance classes, nature walks, stand-up and loads of things for kids to do. And if you’re a writer (or want to be) Primadonna offers you the chance to rub shoulders with agents, authors and publishers or take our ‘MA’. And loads more still to announce!

FREE EVENT – Imagine Festival: The 32 Launch & Why We Need More Diversity In Publishing

The Launch of the 32: An Anthology of Working Class Voices – and Kit de Waal and Paul McVeigh: Why We Need More Diversity in Publishing 

The 32 Launch
Introduced by Kit de Waal and Editor Paul McVeigh with short readings from the Northern Irish contributors Riley Johnston, Dr Michael Pierse and Marc Gregg.

The 32 is the Irish version of ‘Common People’ anthology edited by Kit de Waal. It has 16 established Irish working class voices including Roddy Doyle, Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney and Daniel McLaughlin, as well as, 16 new writers from across the island of Ireland. The anthology aims to go some way towards highlighting the lack of access working class writers have to the publishing industry.

This event will also include a free wine reception and refreshments. and is supported by The Irish Secretariat and Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 

The launch will include a conversation between two of our leading authors who have championed working class writers discuss the challenges faced by people from less affluent backgrounds in getting into print and how they can be overcome. They will discuss the lack of diversity in publishing and the importance of promoting a wider range of voices in literature.  The event will consider why the books industry still so white, middle-class and male and what steps can we take to make publishing more inclusive.

Crescent Arts Centre

Date Sunday 27 March 2022

Time 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Price – FREE

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BBC Scotland: On TV Tonight

Tonight at 10pm the Big Scottish Book Club hosted by Damian Barr includes Jessica Fellowes, Graeme Armstrong and me reading from our books and discuss class and Courtney Stoddart closes with a rousing poem – on BBC Scotland at the link below.

I talk about ‘The 32’ & ‘Common People’ from Unbound and ‘The Good Son’ from Salt Publishing.

I hopeyou enjoy you can catch it – of not lve then on BBC Iplayer.

Podcast: Kit de Waal for Birmingham Literature Festival

I even bought a proper mic and everything.

Today I recorded my first podcast interviewing Kit de Waal about her work especially her new short fiction collection ‘Supporting Cast’ for Birmingham Literature Festival.

Look out for it coming this October.

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The Good Son: Winner of The Polari Prize & The McCrea Literary Award

“The Good Son is a work of genius from a splendid writer.”

Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler

“A triumph of storytelling. An absolute gem.” Donal Ryan

Common People only 99p on Kindle

Common People only 99p on Kindle

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Working-class stories are not always tales of the underprivileged and dispossessed.

Common People is a collection of essays, poems and memoir written in celebration, not apology: these are narratives rich in barbed humour, reflecting the depth and texture of working-class life, the joy and sorrow, the solidarity and the differences, the everyday wisdom and poetry of the woman at the bus stop, the waiter, the hairdresser.

Here, Kit de Waal brings together thirty-three established and emerging writers who invite you to experience the world through their eyes, their voices loud and clear as they reclaim and redefine what it means to be working class.

Features original pieces from Damian Barr, Malorie Blackman, Lisa Blower, Jill Dawson, Louise Doughty, Stuart Maconie, Chris McCrudden, Lisa McInerney, Paul McVeigh, Daljit Nagra, Dave O’Brien, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Anita Sethi, Tony Walsh, Alex Wheatle and more.

Buy here for a short time only.

The 32: Call Out in Irish Times

“Are you a new or emerging writer from a working class background? Would you like to be published alongside an Impac Award-winner, a Booker Prize-winner, two Sunday Times Short Story Award-winners, a senator, playwrights and poets? What about a professional development programme with the help of leading publishers and the Irish Writers Centre.”

Read all about it in my article in The Irish Times.

You can apply here.