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Rachel Holmes
Rachel Holmes

Rachel is the Head of Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre. She is also an author, activist and teacher.
London Literature Festival

Rachel Holmes

LLFFootball, philosophy, capitalist apocalypse, female explorers, comedy, adventures in science, innovative takes on classic stories, Emirati poets, queer carioca and a world-class team of Brazilian writers are just some of the exhilarating tastes of this year’s London Literature Festival. The London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre runs from Thursday 1 to Sunday 18 July 2010 across the whole site, with the main events held in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Royal Festival Hall.          

          Slavoj Zizek, dubbed ‘the most dangerous philosopher in the west’, blows the whistle on the end of capitalism, while yuppie culture’s literary nemesis, Bret Easton-Ellis introduces his long-awaited sequel to American Psycho. Zizek’s timely appearance at London Literature Festival marks the publication of his new book, Living in the End Times, in which he conducts a major new analysis of our global situation from the perspective that global capitalism is fast approaching its terminal crisis. Cult novelist Bret Easton Ellis, whose murderous yuppie Patrick Bateman epitomised the affluent 80s Wall Street era also launches his new book, Imperial Bedrooms at the festival. Ellis returns to the characters in his bestselling debut Less Than Zero, with Clay and his friends facing middle age and a nostalgia for the last 25 years.          

          75-year-old explorer and oceanographer Sylvia Earle, Time magazine’s ‘first hero of the planet’ discusses her adventures at sea and plumbs the depths of oceanography and the environment. Jeanette Winterson delivers the 2010 Southbank Centre Lecture on art and science to mark the 25th anniversary of Oranges are Note the Only Fruit, and Barbara Kingsolver, one of the world’s great storytellers and winner of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction reads from her latest novel, The Lacuna. Rising Palestinian star, Susan Abulhawa launches her groundbreaking debut novel Mornings in Jenin about the 2002 massacre, Hilary Spurling takes us on a journey with Pearl Buck in China, and – to the delight of Trapidistas everywhere – Barbara Trapido discusses her new novel Sex and Stravinsky.

          This year’s festival also celebrates the wealth of Brazilian literary talent past and present in a special programming strand, Brazilian Words, which forms part of Southbank Centre’s three-month long Festival Brazil, sponsored by HSBC. The programme includes legendary footballer Socrates discussing football and Brazil with Jose Miguel Wisnik and Alex Bellos and a performance by cult poet and musician Arnaldo Antunes.           

          Continuing our all-year round programming of classic stories, this year’s London Literature Festival offers an eclectic range of text-based performance and live, site-specific events, including an outdoor student performance of Dante’s Inferno that will take you into the burning circles of the underworld from Southbank Centre’s riverside terrace. We’ve commissioned Donkey Work to bring to life a new site-specific performance of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s early classic of American feminist writing, The Yellow Wallpaper, and one of the world’s great novels Moby Dick comes to the festival as an immersive experience of minimalist theatre.          

          The 21-acre Southbank Centre site will be full of performances, Book Clubs and the Southbank Centre Creative Writing Workshops, with graphic artists, youth programmers and bloggers projecting the festival to London and beyond. Alongside this mix of bestselling novelists, punk poetry and debate, the festival includes special programmes of events on Science and Arts as part of Royal Society’s See Further celebrations, and the inaugural Litweeter Festival – an interactive compendium of word play, twittery challenges and literary gossip. Every day an author will take over the twitter, there will be new creative challenges, comment and debate, and scavenger hunts for free festival tickets. Join in by following us at, or check out         

          As ever, there is great fun and daily inspiration to be had on the capital’s literary riverside; but get ready, the unique programme, unusual events and challenging juxtapositions of the 2010 London Literature Festival are not for the faint hearted.


The full programme for London Literature Festival can be found online at and bookings can be made via: or Tel: 0870 160 2522.          



London Literature Festival 2010 highlights also include:


- John Cooper Clarke, the original punk poet, in his first solo show in over a decade.

- An E4 Udderbelly event with graphic novelists Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.

- Marcus du Sautoy lectures on the Maths of Music (part of celebrations to mark the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society)

- Alexei Sayle gives an exclusive, pre-publication preview of his memoir Stalin Ate My Homework, and kicks off the festival as referee of the festival launch football match, Writers v Scientists.

- Andrea Levy reads from and discusses her new novel The Long Song, which tackles the slave trade.

- Gare St. Lazare Players perform classic American novel Moby Dick.

- Dramatized readings based on Lyndall Gordon’s biography of poet Emily Dickinson.

- Gary Younge launches his new book Who Are We?: Should it Matter in the Twenty-First Century

-Premiere of a staged adaptation of Tahmima Anam’s novel A Golden Age, about the 1971 war of independence in Bangladesh.

- Su Tong, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize 2009, discusses his novel The Boat to Redemption.








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