Norwich writer and former Man Booker prize judge to host special literary event

Sarah Hall will be in conversation as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2019's City of Litera

Sarah Hall will be in conversation as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2019's City of Literature weekend. Picture: Richard Thwaites - Credit: Archant

Sarah Hall and Lila Azam Zanganeh will kick off the City of Literature weekend with a no-holds-barred discussion of sex, death and everything in between as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2019.

Events for the City of Literature weekend will take place in the Norfolk and Norwich Festival Spiege

Events for the City of Literature weekend will take place in the Norfolk and Norwich Festival Spiegeltent, in Chapelfield Gardens, and at the National Centre For Writing, Dragon Hall. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Norwich has long been appreciated as a cultural haven for writers and artists to settle in - and for very good reason, says critically acclaimed author and Norwich-resident, Sarah Hall. "It's a really nice city - a lovely place for writers and artists to be, and on the map as somewhere to go if you would like a particular lifestyle."

This Friday, Sarah will be at the Adnams Spiegeltent with fellow author and former Man Booker prize judge, Lila Azam Zanganeh. Together, they will invite the audience to steer questions on topics as diverse as sex, death and what literature 'should' be, using their individual publishing experiences and personal histories to inform a thoughtful, and informal, discussion.

Sarah is a graduate of Aberystwyth University and holds an MLitt in Creative Writing from St Andrews in Scotland where, she says, she was allowed time to just focus on the craft. "I studied creative writing in the late 1990s - long enough ago that it was a bit different.

"My MLitt was only one of four in the country, I think, and not geared up as a gateway to getting published. It was about the craft. You didn't expect to get published - I worry now that people go in with these expectations."

Throughout her writing career, she has published five novels, including The Electric Michelangelo in 2004 and How To Paint A Dead Man in 2009. Both of these were nominated for the UK's most prestigious literary prize - the Man Booker - which she later went on to judge in 2017. "The whole judging experience was fantastic," she explains. "It was one of the most fortifying judging experiences I've ever had - and it was quite an artistic shortlist."

In addition, Sarah is also an award-winning short story writer. She won the BBC National Short Story Award for Mrs Fox in 2013 and has published two short story collections as well as Sex & Death, a collection she co-edited with Peter Hall and featuring works by acclaimed East Anglian writer Ali Smith.

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"I've really fallen in love with short stories again. Short stories are a bit of a homegoing - the disquiet, the uncanny, the things not said," says Sarah. "They suit the intense experiences I've had over the years and the quality of my work."

Having lived in Norwich for the last six years, the event on Friday will see her on home-turf, and returning to in-depth discussions with Lila Azam Zanganeh, who she met while judging the Man Booker prize. Lila is the author of a work of non-fiction, The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness, and is currently working on her first novel. "Lila is really fascinating," says Sarah. "She is a brilliant writer and an unusual thinker and has a brilliant mind."

The event will begin at 2.30pm on Friday, May 24 and is part of a bumper line-up of literary events taking place in the Spiegeltent in Chapelfield Gardens and Dragon Hall - home of the National Centre for Writing - throughout the weekend.

Highlights will include the Harriet Martineau lecture with Sarah Perry on Saturday, May 25 at 2.30pm and a celebration of local, north Norfolk publisher Salt on the same day at 7.30pm. For more information about the events, and to buy tickets, visit the Norfolk and Norwich Festival website.