Samantha Irby, Lisa Taddeo and David Mitchell set to headline our literature season

Monday, March 9, 2020 - 08:56

“Biggest and boldest summer literature season yet”. Those were the words of our Head of Literature & Spoken Word, Ted Hodgkinson, and if anyone should know, it’s him. Between May and August this year, we hope to be able to host more than 40 literature events across our venues. Get ready for exclusive appearances from literary legends, specially commissioned live-readings, compelling panel discussions and more from renowned writers and emerging literary talent.

Among the big names in literature planned to descend on the Southbank Centre this summer are Samatha Irby, Lisa Taddeo, David Mitchell, Pandora Sykes, Tayari Jones, Amitav Ghosh, and Laura Bates. And, reinforcing our commitment to poetry and spoken word, Out-Spoken’s residency is lined up to continue – with appearances from Fiona Benson, Don Patterson and Carolyn Forché – as too is the National Poetry Library’s Lates series, showcasing emerging and established poetic talent.

This is a season that celebrates the pioneers pushing literature forwards and offers more ways than ever to immerse yourself in great writing.
Ted Hodgkinson, Head of Literature & Spoken Word, Southbank Centre
Samantha Irby, comedian
28 May, Purcell Room

Samantha Irby

Join us for a very special moment as US author Samantha Irby makes her very first in conversation appearance in the UK. Expect typical self-effacing humour and searing insight into contemporary culture (sure sex is fun, but have you ever Googled a popular meme?) as Irby presents her latest book Wow, No Thank You.

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Lisa Taddeo, author
31 May, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Lisa Taddeo

Journalist turned author Lisa Taddeo joins us live in conversation as her literary sensation Three Women is published in paperback. A record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions, Taddeo’s debut Three Women is already a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic.

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David Mitchell, writer
4 June, Queen Elizabeth Hall

David Mitchell

From the twice Booker Prize shortlisted author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks comes a first novel in five years. David Mitchell joins us to launch Utopia Avenue, a multi-faceted tale of dreams, drugs, love, madness and grief that centres on the fabled titular band of the 1960s, whose legacy lives on through their music.

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14 July, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Pandora Sykes

What does the right life even look like? And why do so many women feel like they’re getting it wrong? Journalist and voice of The High Low podcast, Pandora Sykes presents How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? – a wide-ranging and witty book that explores the anxieties and myths that consume our everyday lives.

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Tayari Jones, writer
1 June, Purcell Room

Tayari Jones

The internationally bestselling author of four novels, including An American Marriage, joins us to discuss her latest book. A breathtaking story about the delicate threads that bind a family together, Silver Sparrow charts the complicated negotiation of lies and secrets between one family.

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Amitav Ghosh, writer
23 May, Purcell Room

Amitav Ghosh

Leading author and cultural thinker Amitav Ghosh delivers a compelling keynote address on the need for storytelling in an age defined by climate change, and reflects on his own work to date in conversation with writer Gaia Vince.

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Laura Bates, writer
4 June, Purcell Room

Laura Bates

The founder of the Everyday Sexism Project discusses her explosive new book, Men Who Hate Women. In this ground-breaking investigation, Laura Bates traces the roots of misogyny across a complex web of secretive, extremist communities, as she seeks to understand what attracts men to it, and what can be done to stop it.

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Adam Buxton, comedian
11 May, Royal Festival Hall. Tickets for this event are already on sale

Adam Buxton

Comedian and podcast host Adam Buxton celebrates the publication of Ramble Book, a very funny and at times poignant memoir. Written with characteristic sensitivity and charm, Ramble Book covers everything from boarding school trauma to Bowie; The Adam and Joe Show to coming to terms with the death of his father.

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Out-Spoken host poet Joelle Taylor
21 May, 10 June, & 16 July, Purcell Room


One of London’s premier poetry and live music nights, hosted by Joelle Taylor, continues its popular residency at the Southbank Centre. Headline poets for the months ahead include Don Paterson and Carolyn Forché (May), Forward Prize-winner Fiona Benton (June), and Caroline Bird (July).

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Natalie Diaz, poet
24 June, Hayward Gallery Cafe

National Poetry Library Lates

Our poetry salon series returns for an evening of poetry inspired by sound, celebrating the Hayward Gallery’s Reverb: Sound Into Art exhibition. The intimate atmosphere of Hayward Gallery Cafe is the setting for readings from poets including Natalie Diaz.

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There’s much more to our packed programme, including Pulitzer-Prize winning artist and illustrator Art Spiegelman speaking about his iconic graphic novel Maus (30 May). We also welcome author and blogger Candice Braithwaite to discuss her new book I am Not your Baby Mother (29 May), and American storyteller Percival Everett celebrates the UK publication of I Am Not Sidney Poitier (28 June).

Together with New Perspectives, we’re excited to bring Sayaka Murata’s profound novel Convenience Store Woman to the stage for the first time in a jointly commissioned adaptation by Nozomi Abe and Jack McNamara (27 July)

Though Hayward Gallery’s Among the Trees exhibition draws to a close on 20 May, we continue to explore nature, the environment and climate change through literature with discussions on new books from Season Butler (15 May) and Dara McAnulty (9 July). And, Intelligence Squared and The New York Times present Climate Emergency: How Can I Make a Difference? with a panel including Mike Berners-Lee, Kate Raworth and Somini Sengupta (8 July).

There’s much more poetry to enjoy, including a special performance in the National Poetry Library from Alice Notley (12 May). We also host two leading contemporary poets as they present their debut collections; Rachel Long with My Darling from the Lions (28 July), and Caleb Femi with Poor (31 July). 

Additional authors joining us to launch new books include Maaza Mengiste and Petina Gappah with The Shadow King and Out of Darkness, Shining Light, respectively (13 May). Plus London’s leading LGBTQ+ literary salon Polari strides into summer with events featuring comedian Jen Brister (23 June), and Diana Souhami and illustrator Steven Appleby (31 July), 

And, if all that wasn’t enough to celebrate, we also host readings events for two undisputed highlights of the literary calendar. Our own Ted Hodgkinson chairs the International Booker Prize Readings (16 May), whilst the Women’s Prize for Fiction Readings also return here to the Southbank Centre (2 June).



The show must go on(line)

Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.

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