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Nominate Your ‘Litfest Favourites’ — Fiction and Place

At the ‘Landscape and Fiction’ conversation with James Clarke and Sarah Moss on 20 March 2021 we invited the two writers to name their favourite novels of place.

James Clarke nominated Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, and Sarah Moss recommended the following books:

  • Roger Deakin — Waterlogged (non-fiction)
  • Kathleen Jamie — Surfacing (non-fiction)
  • Elaine Feeney — As You Were
  • Sara Baume — Spill Simmer Falter Wither

We then invited our online audience to name their own favourites in the chat. The instant brainstorming session included the novels listed below.

We now invite all our readers to add to that list using this ‘submit form’ here, naming the author and a specific novel. In the summer we will publish a list of the ten novels of place most admired by our audience of readers.

P.S. for thirty days after the event, you can view James and Sarah’s event on our Youtube channel here!


Gary Budden, Hollow Shores – very interesting collection of short stories focused on landscape in the South East, London, Wales, Finland…
Roger Deakin, Waterlogged (non-fiction)
Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd – in fact, anything of Thomas Hardy, with landscape such a powerful, fated force
Constance Holme, The Lonely Plough (1914) – Milnthorpe-born author whose novels are often set in the Northwest
Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs
Gavin Maxwell, Ring of Bright Water (non-fiction) – imagine your own otter emoji!
H.V. Morton, In Search of England (1927)
Neil Campbell, Sky Hooks; Zero Hours; Lanyards – Manchester-set trilogy brilliantly depicts the changing face of Manchester over the last 10 years or so and takes in the social and political change we’ve seen in that same period.
J. B. Priestley, English Journey (1934)
Phil Rickman, The Merrily Watkins Mystery series (e.g. Midwinter of the Spirit) – set in and around Hereford, with a strong sense of place (each book has a different ‘main’ setting).
Elizabeth Wetmore, Valentine – set in Texas the 1960s. Very evocative landscape.
Tim Winton, The Turning – interconnected story collection set in Western Australia

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Nominate Your ‘Litfest Favourites’ — Short Stories

At Sarah Hall’s ‘In Conversation’ event on 17 March 2021 we asked her to name her three favourite short stories, but like all of us she had difficulty sticking to three, so four it had to be. And four brilliant choices they are:

Angela Carter — ‘The Bloody Chamber’
Tobias Wolff — ‘Hunters in the Snow’
Jon McGregor — ‘The Remains’
Edna O’Brien — ‘Paradise’

We then invited our online audience to name their own favourites in the chat. The instant brainstorming session included the following stories, of which the three most often named were:

Sarah Hall — ‘Mrs Fox
Kevin Barry — ‘Fjord of Kilarry’
Guy de Maupassant — ‘Boule de Suif’

The whole fascinating selection is below and we now invite all our readers to add to that list using the ‘submit form’ here, naming the author, a specific story and ideally the collection in which it can be found. In the summer we will publish a list of the ten stories most admired by our audience of readers.

P.S. for thirty days after the event, you can view Sarah Hall’s event on our Youtube channel here!


Julia Armfield — Stop Your Women’s Ears with Wax
Kevin Barry — Fjord of Killary in Dark Is the Island
John Berger — Lilac and Flag (short novel)
A.S. Byatt — The July Ghost
Raymond Carver – A Small, Good Thing
Ted Chiang
Claire Dean
Carys Davies — The Redemption of Galen Pike
Lydia Davis
Guy de Maupassant — Boule de Suif
Karen Joy Fowler
Leigh Kennedy
Howard Waldrop
Jonathan Gibbs (ed.) — https://apersonalanthology.com/
Sarah Hall — Mrs Fox
Herman Hesse — Wandering
Victoria Hislop — Love Anything
Barabara Kingsolver
D.H.Lawrence — St Mawr (short novel)
Ken Liu — The Paper Menagerie
Alison Macleod — We are Methodists
Charlotte Perkins Gilman — The Yellow Wallpaper
Annie Proulx — Brokeback Mountain
Patrick Rothfuss — The Lightning Tree
Alan Sillitoe — The Fishing Boat Picture
Charles Wilkinson (published by Egeus Press)

The London publishing house Head of Zeus has recently published a number of huge anthologies that are full of interesting suggestions. Here are three of them:
Victoria Hislop (ed.) — The Story: Love, Loss and the Lives of Women: 100 Great Short Stories (2013)
David Miller (ed.) — That Glimpse of Truth: 100 of the Finest Short Stories ever Written (2014)
Frank Wynne (ed.) — Queer: A Collection of LGBTQ Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday (2021)

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Still time to join the Litfest Big Read!

The 2021 festival may be over, but there’s still plenty to keep us occupied here at Litfest HQ!  And there are still lots of ways you can get involved.

One of our most exciting projects is The Litfest Big Read, our flagship project for Litfest 2021.  In our opening weekend we were thrilled to be joined by A.M. Dassu and Matt Haig, whose books Boy, Everywhere and The Midnight Library were the chosen books for the Big Read.  You can watch their Litfest events (and the rest of the 2021 festival) on our Youtube channel — all events will be online for 30 days after their initial broadcast.

As part of the Litfest Big Read, we are encouraging people of all ages to sign up to read one of the two books, so that we can all share the experience of reading as a community whilst physically distanced.  Although the festival has passed, you’re still welcome to sign up, and be in with a chance of winning a free pass to three Litfest events in the next 12 months and your choice of three paperback books.

As part of the Litfest Big Read, we’d also love to see you over at the #LitfestBigBookShare and #LitfestBigPostcardShare tags on social media:

  • Join The Litfest Big Book Share (for 11-15 year-olds) and send us a creative interpretation of your favourite book on any social media platform  #TheLitfestBigBookShare
  • Join The Litfest Big Postcard Share (for 15+ year-olds) and send us a postcard telling us about your favourite book.  You can send your postcard to the Litfest office, or take a photo and post it on social media  #TheLitfestBigPostcardShare

So don’t hang about — sign up, get involved and help us share the Litfest love across Lancashire and beyond!

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A.C. Grayling: Five Key Questions about Democracy

Litfest are delighted to announce some very special bonus material for Litfest 2021!

Democracy has never been more at issue – what it is, how it should function what it should aim to do, why it seems to be struggling…  In a brand new series of five short videos. A. C. Grayling, Principal of the New College of the Humanities at Northeastern University, London, asks key questions about democracy in the world today, its current shortcomings, why it seems to be struggling and suggests a set of possible solutions.

The video series, ‘Five Key Questions about Democracy’, is based on his book The Good State (available from the Litfest Online Bookshop). One video will be uploaded to our YouTube channel each day this week (22nd-26th March 2021)!

View the Videos