Shafak and Schama to headline Jewish Book Week

Shafak and Schama to headline Jewish Book Week

Authors including Elif Shafak and historian Simon Schama are among those confirmed to headline Jewish Book Week this year, which returns as an in-person event at London's King's Place.

They join fellow writers Maria Stepanova Ruth Padel and George Szirtes, who will be speaking at events throughout the festival, from 26th February to 6th March.

Schama will give an exclusive preview of his forthcoming book Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations (Simon & Schuster), while Shafak discusses fictionalised worlds with Sam Leith, exploring her novel 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World (Penguin)

Other events will see Palme d’Or winning film and theatre director Mike Leigh, and Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, creators of "Birds of a Feather" and "The New Statesman", reflect on their careers, while a series of evenings mixing music and conversation will honour six songwriters. Sondheim Tonight will feature the late composer’s official biographer and The Stage columnist David Benedict and Olivier-winner Jenna Russell. The lyrics of Leonard Cohen, Tom Lehrer and Bob Dylan will be discussed by Norman Lebrecht, Harry Freedman, Barn Jungr and Andrew Robinson, and cellist Steven Isserlis will discuss and perform from Bach’s Cello Suites. Elsewhere, Oscar-winning lyricist Don Black will be joined by Michael Grade and musical guests to celebrate a career that includes five Bond themes and several West End and Broadway hits. 

Jewish Book Week director Claudia Rubenstein said: “The universal need for connection has never been more evident, so we are delighted to be able to connect our audience – both newcomers and old friends – with books, authors, speakers and ideas, here in London and online wherever they are. I believe this is our most wide-ranging festival yet, covering everything from thousands of years of history and literature in all its forms to football, grief, comedy, philanthropy, musical theatre, vaccines, the senses, food and the unique relationship between humans and trees.”

Other previously announced events at Kings Place over the nine days include Joe Miller with his inside account of the Biontech-Pfizer vaccine, author and "Peep Show" star Isy Suttie discussing her novel, and Niklas Frank discussing his war criminal father with Philippe Sands.