A four-day live reading of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick featuring actors and writers including Liza Klaussmann, Chibundu Onuzo and A L Kennedy will be among the events at Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival.
The festival, which takes place from 28th September to 12th October, will also include the world premiere of The Hollow of the Hand (Bloomsbury), the debut collaborative book by singer PJ Harvey and photographer Seamus Murphy. There will be poetry readings and new songs performed by Harvey, and a screening of a short film by Murphy.
The live reading of Moby Dick will take place from 1st to 4th October, and is presented by The Special Relationship and Southbank Centre.
It will feature 160 ten-minute readings by actors, writers, comedians and special guests, with the readings incorporating newly commissioned work and “unique surprises” including choral performances and Moby Dick-themed food and drink.
Members of the public can also apply to be a reader.
The festival, in partnership with Intelligence Squared, will also present Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam in conversation with a special guest on 7th October, in an event discussing Gilliam’s life, career, art and the broader question of creativity. The event will focus on Gilliam’s latest memoir, Gilliamesque: A Pre-Posthumous Memoir (Canongate), which is due to be published this October, and will be his only book appearance in the UK this year.
Other events include Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Ali Smith introducing Tom Morris and his début short story collection written under her guidance, taking place on 10th October.
Telling the Untellable, an event on 9th October exploring the dilemmas writers face when telling the story of another person and what draws them to controversial stories, will include Misha Glenny on the underworld of organised crime, Jonny Steinberg on Somalian refugee life, and Åsne Seierstad on the story and aftermath of 2011 Norway attacks perpetrator, Anders Breivik.
On 3rd October Forward Prize winner Kei Miller will present Island Sounds, a specially commissioned piece that is part poem and part hymn, and conjures up the cacophony of his Jamaican homeland alongside his adopted home of Britain.
This year’s festival will also feature a special strand of events exploring the worlds of gaming, science and mind-bending possibilities.
Exit Pursued by Zombies sees novelist and gaming expert Naomi Alderman join a panel of game designers and critics on 7th October. The event will explore how a playable character compares to an unforgettable narrator and the connection between gaming and literature.
A panel of experts and writers including Matt Haig, the author of Reasons to Stay Alive (Canongate), explore the science and stories behind depression and how literature can act as a lifeline in the darkest hours in a special two-part discussion, The Pursuit of Happiness, taking place on 11th October.
There will also be a number of events geared towards young people, including the Young Adult Weekender on 2nd and 3rd October - a weekend of talks, workshops, performances and The Dystopian Book Club featuring a lineup programmed by young writers and readers aged 13 to 25.
Jude Kelly, artistic director of Southbank Centre, said: “As readers and festival goers welcome to literature for a variety of reasons, but one thing remains constant: we want to discover something we didn't know before. The London Literature Festival brings together award-winning authors, poets and also voices from unusual origins to challenge and refresh our sense of the world. The festival offers numerous ways for audiences to participate and I'm excited that this year's Moby Dick event gives over 100 people a chance to lend their own voice to this masterpiece."
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