High profile and prize-winning authors including Ian McEwan, Jonathan Safran Foer, Sebastian Faulks and children's author Jacqueline Wilson, have been unveiled for The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.
The 10-day festival, running from Friday 7th October to Sunday 16th October 2016, revealed its "early highlights" today (4th July), featuring Jeremy Hutchinson QC, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, political satirist PJ O’Rourke, Teju Cole, Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, Amercian memoirist Cheryl Stayed, sporting presenter Clare Balding and bestselling novelist Jilly Cooper. Crime writer Michael Connelly will also appear at the festival, along with 2014 Baileys winner Eimear McBride, Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, Scottish satirist Armando Iaunucci, poet Simon Armitage, and UK children's laureate Chris Riddell.
The event will welcome over 600 writers, actors, politicians and poets to "celebrate the joy of the written and spoken word," the organisers said, "whether provocative, thoughtful, lyrical, satirical or downright funny".
Six guest curators have been involved in developing the line-up based on the two main themes of "America Uncovered" and "Millennial Lives". They are: American writer and critic and former editor of Granta Magazine John Freeman; professor of American literature Sarah Churchwell; comedian Reginald D Hunter; rapper, poet and academic Akala; Girl Lost in the City blogger Emma Gannon and writer and performer Cecilia Knapp.
The festival will offer events spanning the topics of history, art, classic literature, music, film, theatre, entertainment, and food and lifestyle, with the children’s and YA programme featuring two weekends of author events, shows and workshops for an audience from toddlers to teens.
There will also be pop-up performances in the streets of Cheltenham and a "Lit Crawl", inspired by San Francisco’s Litquake Festival, that turns a bar crawl into "literary mayhem". "Edgy" late-night performances will follow after dark at "Festival Lates".
Festival director Antonia Byatt said: “I am really excited to present my first festival at Cheltenham and it’s going to be amazing! In the run up to the American election we present a fascinating view of the USA from up-to-the-moment political analysis to a rich investigation of the nation’s culture. The festival explores other pertinent issues of our times too and there is a chance to hear some of the best talent in fiction, poetry and spoken word. This year the site will be really vibrant: there will be plenty of late entertainment as well as brilliant free activities for families. Above all, the festival is for people to come together to celebrate and enjoy the written and spoken word whether provocative, thoughtful, lyrical, satirical or downright funny.”