COMEDIAN Jack Dee, new Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and novelist and Arsenal fanatic Nick Hornby are among the stars lined up for the 19th Durham Book Festival which runs from October 23 to November 1.
There will be a full and formal launch next month but some of the headline events are either already on sale or about to go on sale.
New Writing North have programmed this year’s festival for Durham City Arts and a glance at the programme - embargoed until the launch - suggests it will appeal on many levels while also justifying its position as a key element in the city’s bid to be City of Culture in 2013.
Venues will include not only the Gala Theatre and the Town Hall but Durham County Cricket Club and the city’s Botanical Gardens.
Jack Dee, one of comedy’s drollest and most lugubrious characters, has a new memoir out called Thanks For Nothing which details the jobs he endured before hitting the big time.
For a while, apparently, Jack worked in an artificial leg factory although in interviews with The Journal he has talked about his experiences in the restaurant business.
“Join him in conversation and find out what turned him from cheery young fellow into grumpy middle-aged git,” urges the festival publicity. Irresistible. Jack’s on stage on October 28.
Nick Hornby hit the big time in 1992 when Fever Pitch, detailing a life uncomfortably entwined with Arsenal FC, was published.
He followed it up with successful novels such as Fever Pitch and High Fidelity which both found their way onto the big screen.
This year Nick has a new novel out. Juliet, Naked tells of a couple, Annie and Duncan, whose shared love of a reclusive musician is not enough to hold them together - especially when Annie gets to meet the musician.
Nick will be joined on the Gala stage on October 25 by fellow novelist David Nicholls – author of the hilarious Starter For Ten and, more recently, One Day – for a discussion entitled On Relationships, to be chaired by Dr Simon James of Durham University.
Earlier that evening Nick will also be in conversation with Lynn Barber of The Observer, doyenne of Fleet Street celebrity interviewers.
Lynn’s An Education, a “candid, unsentimental and extremely funny” account of her teenage love affair with an older man who was not what he seemed, was adapted by Nick for the cinema.
Authors Marina Lewycka and Amanda Craig will talk about immigration and friendship at the Gala Theatre on October 27, as well as discussing their new novels.
Marina, who is of Ukrainian extraction, was born in 1946 in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany, and emerged as a writer at the age of 58 with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.
The oddly named novel was rejected 36 times before finding a publisher and went on to win awards after it hit the bookshops in 2005.
Marina’s latest novel, We Are All Made of Glue, was published in July to enthusiastic reviews. The title may seem to have been designed to put off readers but the fans are wise to her tricks now and won’t be thwarted.
Amanda Craig, whose previous novels include A Vicious Circle and Love in Idleness, has a new book out called Hearts and Minds.
Carol Ann Duffy, who recently took over the Poet Laureate’s mantle from Andrew Motion, will appear at Durham Town Hall on October 30 with a line-up of North East poets including Linda France, Cynthia Fuller, Maureen Almond, Pippa Little and Ellen Phethean who are all celebrating the launch of new collections.
Then there’s fantasy writer Kate Mosse, author of the hugely popular Labyrinth and Sepulchre and co-founder in 1996 of the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is due at the Gala on October 29 to talk about her new book The Winter Ghosts. Set in the French Pyrenees in the winter of 1928, the novel follows the lives of two characters whose lives are transformed by the First World War.
The Durham Book Festival box office is at the Gala theatre, Durham. Call (0191) 332 4041 or visit www.galadurham.co.uk