Announcing our London Literature Festival 2018 line-up

Friday, July 20, 2018 - 09:49

It’s that time of year again! We’re delighted to announce the line-up for London Literature Festival 2018. In October we’ll welcome a wealth of award-winning literary greats, iconic artists, emerging talent, international writers and leading thinkers to Southbank Centre for the 12th edition of our annual celebration of the power of literature to reflect on the burning issues of our times.

Held over eleven days (18 - 28 October), the London Literature Festival will feature a packed programme of exclusive appearances, live readings, newly commissioned performances, talks, debates, poetry, visual displays, workshops, award ceremonies, book launches, family events, music, and free activity. And, of course, it will include some great literary names.

We’ll welcome award-winning British and international writers to our venues for London exclusive in conversation events. This includes Pulitzer prize-winning American author Marilynne Robinson presenting her new collection of essays What Are We Doing Here? and critically-acclaimed author of Call Me By Your Name, André Aciman reading from and discussing his new novel Enigma Variations. Polish novelist and 2018 Man Booker International Prize-winner Olga Tokarczuk launches her latest novel to appear in English, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead; and Man Booker Prize-winning author Sir Salman Rushdie looks back on his life and works, from Midnight’s Children to The Golden House in his first appearance at Southbank Centre in more than a decade.


London Literature Festival 2018 invites audiences on a journey across centuries and borders to explore the timeless power of literature to question and reflect on the burning issues of our times.
Ted Hodgkinson, Southbank Centre’s Head of Literature and Spoken Word

The 2018 London Literature Festival also sees iconic artists exploring their life and work; including the exclusive London launch event for Roger Daltrey’s new memoir Thanks a lot, Mr Kibblewhite: My Life, as he joins us to open the festival by discussing his life as frontman of iconic English rock band The Who. The following evening two-time Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field makes an exclusive London appearance to discuss her new memoir In Pieces which explores her Hollywood career and reflects openly for the first time about the challenges she endured as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

BAM Friday 31.01.14_Ganging Up_Akala 2_Credit Belinda Lawley

Reflecting on the world today, BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist and writer Akala (pictured) and historian, broadcaster and writer David Olusoga appear in conversation together for the first time to discuss empire, race, culture, class and the roots of modern British society. We also host a series of events exploring contemporary America; writers and activists Soraya Chemaly and Laura Bates discuss Feminism in Trump’s America, whilst American poet Terrance Hayes and Professor of American Literature Sarah Churchwell discuss the sentiments of the American Dream and America First.

Internationally-acclaimed Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson helps us explore the intersection between literature and the arts as he presents his new illustrated volume Olafur Eliasson: Experience. We’ll also welcome familiar broadcasters to Southbank Centre including Melvyn Bragg, who will reflect on twenty years at the helm of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time in an exclusive live event, coinciding with the publication of a companion book, and Sue Perkins shares stories from her forthcoming book, inspired by her popular BBC travel documentaries across Asia.

An Introduction to The Odyssey

At the heart of the festival is a celebration and exploration of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. This includes a special one-off live reading of the work performed by a stellar cast and preceded by a panel discussion led by broadcaster and TLS Classics editor Mary Beard (pictured), alongside writer Madeline Miller, and classicist Simon Goldhill.

Further discussions and workshops throughout the festival will explore the poem’s themes from myth and legacy to gender and the nature of belonging, with writers and thinkers including Sharlene Teo, Andrew McMillan, Joseph Cassara and Michael Hughes.

Taking inspiration from The Odyssey, London Literature Festival will also feature writers and artists reflecting on modern day journeys. Such as Pakistani novelist and author of the Booker shortlisted The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid reflects on why stories of migration have captivated our imaginations from the Ancient Greeks to his most recent novel Exit West. Whilst a number of other novelists will join us for a series of discussions exploring the theme of homeland, including Esi Edugyan, Aida Edemariam, Samanta Schweblin, Laia Jufresa, Guiseppe Caputo, Melissa Harrison and Sam Byers. And we’ll also host the world premiere performance of Chibundu Onuzo’s 1991, a new commission from Southbank Centre.


We are thrilled to gather together an incredible array of award-winning literary great, iconic artists, emerging talent, international writers and leading thinkers to examine issues that have faced our world for millennia and continue to preoccupy us today
Ted Hodgkinson, Southbank Centre’s Head of Literature and Spoken Word

Beyond The Odyssey, other poetry events at this year’s festival include Carol Ann Duffy presenting Sincerity, her new collection and her last as Poet Laureate in an evening of readings with friends and fellow poets Imtiaz Dharker, Keith Hutson and emerging talent Mark Pajak. The Poetry Society presents a showcase of readings and live performance from previous winners of the Foyle Young Poets Award including Jay Bernard, Helen Mort, Sarah Howe and Richard Osman. And, there will also be a chance to hear the work of international artists, including celebrated Emirati poets Nujoom Alghanem and Ali Al Shaali.

And the festival will also play host to awards celebrating marginalised voices in publishing including the Creative Future Literary Awards presented by Lemn Sissay, a panel with the SI Leeds Literary Prize shortlist chaired by Ellah Allfrey and the Polari First Book Prize.

Tickets for London Literature Festival events go on sale to Southbank Centre Members on Tuesday 24 July, and on general sale on Wednesday 25 July.

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Southbank Centre hosts literature, poetry and spoken word events, featuring best-selling authors and emerging and inspiring writers, all year round.

see what’s coming up