A debut novel from British Asian writer Sharon Duggal will be championed by City Reads 2017 in the Brighton and Hove area.
The "relevant and important" novel, The Handsworth Times (Bluemoose Books), is set in 1981 and tells the story of the Agarwal family set against the backdrop of "Thatcher's fractured Britain".
City Reads 2017 will launch on World Book Day (2nd March) and will feature a wide range of events themed around The Handsworth Times aimed to encourage residents across the City to "get reading and start talking". Highlights include a Literary Salon, featuring three more Bluemoose authors at the Regency Townhouse on Wednesday 29th March; a "riotous celebration" of the music made during era of The Handsworth Times via a Stick It On Party at The Latest Music Bar on Friday 28th April; and The City Reads Book Quiz which will take place on Wednesday 22nd March. The final event will be held at Brighton Festival on 14th May.
Duggal said: "What an absolute honour to have my novel chosen for City Reads 2017. It is quite a special thing to know that people from all walks of life across the city where I live and work will be coming together to read my book, just as I have done with many previous City Reads selections. The Handsworth Times is ultimately a book about the hope we find in other people and it will be such a pleasure to have the opportunity to get out there and share the story with so many different people across this city via the inspired City Reads programme of events."
Andrew Comben, chief executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, said: "We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival again this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. That Sharon Duggal’s powerful debut explores the importance of empathy and community is particularly fitting as a choice for City Reads which encourages readers to come together with the common purpose of reading and discussing their love of reading together. And with Kate Tempest at the helm as Guest Director this year, it is a theme which is central to her vision for the Festival as a whole."
Sarah Hutchings, artistic director of City Reads, added "Sharon Duggal’s outstanding debut was the unanimous favourite of our reading panel for this year’s City Reads. 2016 saw Britain polarised following the Brexit referendum, leading to some bitter arguments and disputes within communities. Sharon’s book couldn’t have been published at a more relevant time. It has heart, humour and courage - I hope you love it as much as we do at City Reads."