London Review Bookshop launches biannual festival series

London Review Bookshop launches biannual festival series

The London Review Bookshop has launched a biannual series of short festivals called Subject/Object, kicking off with an event featuring Anita Sethi, Paul Theroux and Gaby Wood.

Each festival will loosely trace a theme through the archive of the London Review of Books with a week-long schedule of events. The first theme is birds and will be online from 24th to 28th May.

Opening with a dawn chorus of composer Olivier Messiaen’s attempts to re-create birdsong, performed by organist James McVinnie and livestreamed from Exeter Cathedral, the festival will combine music, literature, film and ecology in unusual ways.

A conversation about the place of birds in writing about place with Steve Ely, Jessica J Lee, Anita Sethi and Amanda Thomson, will be followed by a late-night livestream of the folk musician Sam Lee duetting with a nightingale on the South Downs.

Elsewhere on the bill, a discussion of avian consciousness with Peter Godfrey-Smith and Jonathan Meiburg will close with an exclusive premiere of songs from Meiburg’s band Shearwater’s new album, their first for five years, before an LRB Screen at Home special on Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, with Gaby Wood.

A conversation about the company of birds during the pandemic will see Jon Day joining from his pigeon loft in Leyton and Paul Theroux calling in from Hawaii. The LRB's Francis Gooding will be joined by Benedict Macdonald and other guests from the worlds of literature and conservation for a discussion about rewilding and rebirding.

Two events are presented in partnership with Jessica J Lee’s The Willowherb Review, which seeks to celebrate and bolster nature writing by emerging writers of colour.

Sam Kinchin-Smith, the LRB’s head of special projects, said: “The LRB’s archive of pieces, every one of which can be read by subscribers online, is one of the richest resources of evergreen writing and thinking available anywhere, and this new festival series and programme show how endless its uses are, especially when combined with the bookselling and event-hosting might of the London Review Bookshop. Our online events have been attended by many hundreds more people than can fit into the shop, over the last year, and Subject/Object shows how pandemic improvisations can become exciting new directions for cultural institutions, as normal life starts to resume.”

Early bird festival tickets are £25, later rising to £30, and include an e-publication containing all the pieces from the pages of the LRB that fed into the events. For more information visit the event website.