Two of the UK’s most exciting voices in queer writing, Julia Armfield (Our Wives Under the Sea) and Paul Mendez (Rainbow Milk) talk to our Guest Curator Paul McVeigh about their novels, their writing and the LGBTQ+ writing scene, which is finally seeing the celebration it deserves.
Julia Armfield is a fiction writer and occasional playwright. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. She was commended in the Moth Short Story Prize 2017, longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Award 2018, and won the White Review short story prize 2018.Her critically acclaimed short story collection, salt slow, was published in2019. Our Wives Under the Sea is her first novel.
Paul Mendez is a British writer, based in Birmingham. His debut novel Rainbow Milk (Dialogue, 2020), an Observer Best Debuts choice, was shortlisted for the Polari First Novel Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Fiction and a British Book Award (Fiction Debut). He has written for Vogue, AnOther, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, The Face, the London Review of Books, the TLS,the WritersMosaic and the BBC. He is currently adapting Rainbow Milk for television, and is a student on the MA programme in Black British Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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.
‘Prophets, Makers and Risk Takers: A Showcase of Writing from Northern Ireland’ is a 2-day festival that brings leading writers in Northern Ireland together, in person and online, to share their ideas and skills with emerging writers, and to promote the best of Northern Irish writing across the world.
I’ll be taking part in the Panel Discussion: Understanding the Industry at 12noon March 9th.
Join Dublin Book Festival for an evening of delving into Queer Love: An Anthlogy of Irish Fiction (Munster Literature). The anthology was conceived as an attempt to redress the lack of acknowledgement of LGBTQIA+ community and representation in Irish literary anthologies. At this online event, editor of the collection Paul McVeigh is joined by two of its contributors, Emma Donoghue and Neil Hegarty to discuss their contributions to the anthology, the importance of producing this anthology, and developing LGBTQIA+ presence and representation in the Irish literary community.
Queer Love: An Anthology of Irish Fiction is a new publication from Southword Editions which seeks to go some way to redress the lack of acknowledgement of the LGBTQI+ community in Irish literary anthologies, with a mixture of established writers of international standing, writers who have been making a splash in recent years and new emerging writers. The anthology has a mixture of previously published stories, newly commissioned work and those entered through our call out. Featuring stories by John Boyne, Emma Donoghue, Mary Dorcey, Neil Hegarty, James Hudson, Emer Lyons, Jamie O’Connell, Colm Tóibín, Declan Toohey, and Shannon Yee.
Emma Donoghue, born in Dublin in 1969, is an award- winning novelist, playwright and screenwriter, living in Canada with her family. Her novel The Pull of the Stars became a bestseller in the US (New York Times), Canada, Ireland and Britain on publication in July 2020. Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes and has sold over two million copies. She adapted the novel into her first feature film, Room, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, which was nominated for four Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actress (won by Brie Larson). Her short-story collections include Astray, Three and a Half Deaths (UK ebook), Touchy Subjects, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, and Kissing the Witch.
Declan Toohey is from County Kildare. His writing has appeared in Soft Punk, The Dublin Review of Books, The Blue Nib, Stone of Madness Press, and the anthologies Queer Love and Brevity is the Soul, among other outlets. Earlier this year, he was a co-winner of the IWC Novel Fair, and his debut novel, Perpetual Comedown, is forthcoming with New Island Books.
Shannon Yee is an award-winning writer and producer. Her perspectives as an immigrant, ethnic minority, queer artist-parent with a disability living in NI are deeply embedded in her work. Shannon has received a number of awards and grants, including the ACNI Major Individual Artist Award (2017). Her Reassembled, Slightly Askew sonically immerses audiences in her autobiographical experience of nearly dying and subsequent acquired brain injury (www.reassembled.co.uk) , touring locally, nationally and internationally in arts festivals and medical training settings since 2015. Shannon’s published short stories are ‘The Brightening Up Side’( Belfast Stories; Doire Press, 2019), and ‘Thumbnails’ (Queer Love: An Anthology of Irish Fiction; Southword Editions, 2020). Her first dance film, Pandemic Parenting: Pandemonium, will be aired this autumn on BBC as part of the Culture in Quarantine commissions.
Paul McVeigh‘s debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award and was shortlisted for many others including the Prix du Roman Cezam in France. His short stories have been read on BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5 and on Sky Arts. They have appeared in print in journals such as The Stinging Fly, and numerous anthologies including Faber’s Being Various: New Irish Short Stories and The Art of the Glimpse. He is associate director of Word Factory, ‘the UK’s national organisation for excellence in the short story’ (The Guardian), and he co-founded the London Short Story Festival. He was co-editor of the Belfast Storiesanthology and was fiction editor at Southword Journal. He edited The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working Class Writers, which includes new work by Kevin Barry, Roddy Doyle and Lisa McInerney.
Image credits: Paul McVeigh photographed by John Minihan
Free Book Now -The 32 is a celebration of working-class voices from the island of Ireland and it features 16 published writers and 16 new voices writing about their experience of being working class in Ireland. In this event editor Paul McVeigh speaks to four of the contributors Riley Johnston, Dave Lordan, Abby Oliveira and Rick O’Shea.
We read because we want to experience lives and emotions beyond our own, to learn, to see with others’ eyes.
Edited by award-winning novelist Paul McVeigh, this intimate and illuminating collection features memoir and essays from established and emerging Irish voices including Kevin Barry, Dermot Bolger, Roddy Doyle, Lisa McInerney, Lyra McKee and many more. The 32 is published by Unbound on 8 July 2021.
Too often, working-class writers find that the hurdles they come up against are higher and harder to leap over than those faced by writers from more affluent backgrounds. As in Common People – an anthology of working-class writers in the UK edited by Kit de Waal and the inspiration behind this collection – The 32 sees writers who have made that leap reach back to give a helping hand to those coming up behind. Without these working-class voices, without the vital reflection of real lives or role models for working-class readers and writers, literature will be poorer. We will all be poorer.
Paul McVeigh is the editor of The 32 – an upcoming collection of essays and memoir, bringing together sixteen well-known writers from working class backgrounds with an equal number of new and emerging writers from all over the island of Ireland. He’ll be in conversation with two of the featured authors Lisa McInerney and Michael Nolan.