Belfast Book Festival Offers Literary Nourishment for Mind, Body and Soul

This year's newly-launched programme features 100 events offering an 11-day escape into fiction, comedy, current-day issues and much more

The Belfast Book Festival returns for its seventh edition from June 7 to 17, with over one hundred live events and workshops spanning a huge variety of interests and topical themes. Through authors, music, comedy, poetry, theatre and discussions, the newly-announced programme is set to bring a diverse line-up of local and international talent to the Crescent Arts Centre and partner venues across the city.

Amongst this year's highlights are renowned political scientist, activist, distinguished professor and prolific author Norman Finkelstein, comedian and actress Sara Pascoe, whose debut book Animal explores the forces that mould and affect modern women, and the stars of international smash hit podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno, which recently sold out Sydney Opera House.

Author of the best-selling book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis De Bernieres will also be talking about his latest novel Blue Dog, while audiences can spend a year in the life of Sarah Turner – mum, wife, blogger and best-selling author of The Unmumsy Mum. Elsewhere British author, journalist and political commentator Douglas Murray discusses his book The Strange Death of Europe, stand-up comedian and author Luisa Omielan asks 'What Would Beyonce Do?', poet Kayo Chingonyi will read from his new collection Kumukanda, which explores issues of race, identity and masculinity, and local actor and author Ciaran McMenamin talks about his acclaimed debut novel Skintown.

This year also sees the launch of the inaugural Mairtin Crawford Award. Aimed at poets working towards their first full collection, the winner will receive a six-month mentorship, which will support the poet to grow artistically and develop professionally. With support from the Irish Writer's Centre, the award has been organised in association with the much missed poet Moyra Donaldson, who will be paid tribute to and celebrated in a special event during the festival.

Naturally, the theme of Brexit and its associated issues around immigration and political uncertainty are present in this year's programme, with guest authors and journalists including Polly Toynbee, David Walker and Gary Younge. Feminist writers in both fiction and non-fiction also feature, as well as discussions around related issues. A key highlight, in association with the Woman’s Equality Party Northern Ireland, is Catherine Mayer, who is a co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party and former editor at large of TIME magazine.

The Belfast Book Festival, in partnership with Belfast City Council, invites families to discover the merry old land of Oz on June 10 from 11am – 3pm at Lower Crescent Park. Featuring children’s authors storytelling, games, lots of entertainment and of course books – this jam packed family fun day is free to attend.

Deepa Mann-Kler, Chair of the Crescent Arts Centre, commented: 'We did it again – this year’s programme is so ridiculously good! We have literary nourishment for your mind, body and soul. You may have noticed that the world is in a state of flux, so if you want to escape the turmoil of the planet or if you want to reflect then you have to join us for Belfast Book Festival 2017.

Belfast Book Festival 2017 Launch 2

'We have drawn talent from across the globe and closer to home, so please take a few minutes to book your festival highlights now. This year we are delighted to be working with the Bullitt Hotel, who are the festival sponsor, and a huge thank you to our funders and key sponsors - we can only do what we do because of you.'

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the festival’s principal funder, said: 'The seventh Belfast Book Festival opens up the incredible worlds of literature and the imagination by allowing the best international and local writers to present their work to audiences in the most intimate and personable of settings. The Arts Council’s support as principal funder reflects our confidence in this festival to extend the appeal of all literary genres so that everyone, from the most tentative to the most seasoned of readers, has the opportunity to experience the full and inimitable pleasure of books.'

Keith Acheson, Festival Director, added: 'We are delighted to announce the programme of our seventh Belfast Book Festival. Year on year the programme reaches new heights and this year is no exception. Across 11 days, through a range of international and local talent, we will open up the world of books via workshops, talks, performances and our annual free Family Fun Day. The festival provides not only a unique opportunity to explore, discuss and debate key themes affecting us all, but importantly offers new and existing audiences the opportunity to discover these themes through the wonderful world of books and meeting the authors in intimate settings.'

For full details of the Belfast Book Festival programme and ticket booking visit www.belfastbookfestival.com. Stay up to date on social media by following the festival on Facebook and Twitter #BelfastBook.