9 November 2022: Wilberforce Institute, Hull
It was a huge honour to be asked to address the Institute. The talk was taken from my book Losing the Thread: Cotton, Liverpool and the American Civil War and discussed the unholy co-dependency of American slavery and the British cotton trade. See the video here. Thanks to all who attended, both in person and online. (And I could not help thinking how proud my great-great-great-grandfather would have been, having hosted Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison at his home in Belfast during their lecture tours of Britain and Ireland.)
2 June 2018: Enfin Livre, Cazères-sur-Garonne
At least the French take books seriously. I haven’t been asked to a literary event in the UK for ages, but in France the invitations keep coming, despite having had only one novel published in French. This festival was in the hometown of Benôit Séverac, with whom I shared an eccentric stage in Frontignan two summers ago. I was interviewed by Cyril Binot and just about managed to keep my French going for an hour and a half. A delightful weekend, well lubricated by the local wine and full of bizarre joys.
12 May 2018: LibraryLit, Parisot, Tarn-et-Garonne
Another summer; another novel; another visit to Parisot – this time to talk about Things We Nearly Knew. I was interviewed by Gina Connolly in the library, followed by questions from local British book groupies. Much better than giving a talk. Questions always make me consider things about my own books in a new way. Another fond memory of Parisot to keep.
8 November 2016: Withiel Village Hall, near Bodmin, Cornwall
15 November 2016: Barnett’s Bookshop, Wadhurst, Sussex
Two lovely events in rural England: one a coming together of four book groups; the other hosted by a delightful local bookshop. Good attendances; warm and friendly audiences; plenty of stimulating questions and conversations. Thanks to all who came.
22 October 2016: Parisot Literary Festival, Tarn-et-Garonne
I am not yet a veteran of literary festivals, but I have spoken at a few, and this has been by far the best. It is a miracle to have conceived, and then so brilliantly to have executed, a British literary festival in a remote corner of the French countryside. I was surrounded by people who are vastly better read than I am, who were immersed in what they had come to hear, and who asked a stream of pertinent questions at the end. Before that I had been interviewed, charmingly and perceptively, by Festilitt organiser Liz Stanley. It was a pleasure from beginning to end.
24-26 June 2016: Festival du Roman Noir de Frontignan
I’m not sure I would describe Trading Futures as a roman noir, but that was the least of the incongruities at this delightful festival on the Mediterranean. It was my painful duty, on the first day, to break the news of the referendum result. The universal shock and disbelief was palpable. There was a surreal joint reading with French author Benôit Séverac, where I read extracts from his novel (Le Chien Arabe) in French, while he read extracts from mine in English. Then there were two animated round table discussions with fellow authors. Altogether a wonderful experience. Except for the referendum result.
14-18 March 2016: Book at Bedtime
Trading Futures was Radio 4’s ‘Book at Bedtime’ for the week, the part of Matthew Oxenhay created by the superb Toby Jones. Hear all five parts of the adaptation below:
10 March 2016: Launch of Trading Futures at the London Review Bookshop
What a swell party that was. My grateful thanks to my editor, Ravi Mirchandani, and my old friend, Duncan Baird, for their welcoming speeches, and for all the friends who turned up to support the event. Watch the video clip of Jim reading from the novel, and the video clips of the welcoming speeches.
3 March 2016: Bath Literature Festival – Literary Death Match
The Literary Death Match isn’t literature in the way that 20:20 isn’t cricket, but in both cases it’s vastly entertaining and pulls in a swathe of new people. Thanks to Adrian Todd Zuniga for inventing the format, and for compering the show. And to the judges and fellow competitors. (The winner was Paul M M Cooper. If one cares about that sort of thing. Which of course one doesn’t. In the slightest. It’s not as if it was a Test match.)