Transformation in many forms is theme of festival at Charleston

Small Wonder, now in its 15th year, will be the first major event in the newly restored 18th century hay barn at Charleston.

Wednesday, 8th August 2018, 1:27 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:24 pm
Small Wonder festival at Charleston 2018 SUS-180808-105438001
Small Wonder festival at Charleston 2018 SUS-180808-105438001

This year’s Small Wonder, the UK’s only festival dedicated to short stories, includes a mix of home-grown and international authors, poets and artists, who will examine the contemporary relevance of those who lived at Charleston over 100 years ago.

The theme of transformation is reflected in the festival’s new setting, which includes not only the restored barn but a brand new suite of galleries.

This year’s programme features Kate Mosse, Juno Dawson, Ben Okri, Lionel Shriver, Tom Rachman, Daljit Nagra, Kate Clanchy, Sarah Churchwell, Louise Doughty, Imogen Hermes Gowar and A.L Kennedy.

Small Wonder festival at Charleston 2018

Highlights include recent works by short story writers Sarah Hall, Eley Williams and Lucy Wood plus playwright, director and author Neil Bartlett.

AS Byatt is named as the recipient of The Charleston-Bedes Award for a Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award. Previous recipients of the award, now in its sixth year, Edna O’Brien.

Olivia Laing and performance artist La John Joseph will read from a specially commissioned composition to mark the 90th anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. This will be followed by a conversation with artist Sarah Wood.

Seventy years since the arrival of Empire Windrush, author and historian of Caribbean Studies Colin Grant presents a session looking at writing from the perspective of migration. Colin is joined by poets Daljit Nagra and Kate Clanchy.

On festival Saturday, Booker Prize winning novelist Ben Okri explores the power of poetry as a vehicle of protest and will read from his compilation Poetry For The Many.

On Sunday the focus shifts when former journalist Tom Rachman’s latest short story collection provides an early literary look at Trump-era America. He is joined by author and journalist Lionel Shriver who will be discussing her first collection of short stories Property.

Chiming with the anniversary of the first steps towards women’s suffrage, the festival celebrates a diverse troupe of women’s voices, with Imogen Hermes Gowar and A.L Kennedy.

Kicking off the Festival, author Kate Mosse discusses the new anthology I Am Heathcliff, her curation of 16 short stories examining the romance and pain of the infamous literary anti-hero. Mosse is joined by Juno Dawson (activist and author of seven novels including current best seller - Clean) and Louise Doughty (Black Water and number-one bestseller Apple Tree Yard).

The BBC National Short Story Award returns to Small Wonder and for the fourth year running, Charleston and the British Council are welcoming an international writer to soak up the inspiration and respond to Small Wonder; this year the honour falls to Layla Al Ammar from Kuwait whose debut novel was published last year.

Tickets are on sale now. To download the programme and booking visit or telephone 01323 815150.

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