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Bookworms in for a treat at Belfast Book Festival

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland's readers are getting ready for a literary feast as the buzz begins for the seventh Belfast Book Festival, running from June 7 to June 17.

The packed programme unveiled yesterday features 100 events over the 11 days of the festival, engaging a wide range of interests and exploring topical themes.

Through authors, workshops, music, comedy, poetry, theatre and discussions, festival-goers will be treated to the best international and local talent at the Crescent Arts Centre and partner venues across the city.

Acclaimed writers as diverse as Douglas Murray (The Strange Death of Europe) and Louis de Bernieres (Captain Corelli's Mandolin) will discuss their latest books.

Poet Kayo Chingonyi will read from his new collection, Kumukanda, in which issues of race, identity and masculinity are explored. And current affairs commentators including Polly Toynbee, David Walker and Gary Younge will discuss the political uncertainties around Brexit.

This year also sees the launch of the inaugural Mairtin Crawford Award.

Aimed at poets working towards their first full collection, the winner will receive a six-month mentorship.

Festival director Keith Acheson said: "The festival provides not only a unique opportunity to explore, discuss and debate key themes affecting us all, but importantly offers new and existing audiences the opportunity to discover these themes through the wonderful world of books."

Deepa Mann-Kler, chair of the Crescent Arts Centre, said: "We have literary nourishment for your mind, body and soul."

Damian Smyth, head of literature and drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the festival's principal funder, added:"The seventh Belfast Book Festival opens up the incredible worlds of literature and the imagination by allowing the best international and local writers to present their work to audiences in the most intimate of settings.

"The Arts Council's support reflects our confidence in this festival to extend the appeal of all literary genres so that everyone has the opportunity to experience the full and inimitable pleasure of books."

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