Spreading a love of reading throughout Brighton and Hove is the aim of the annual City Reads event.
Each year City Reads puts on a range of events to get residents reading, themed around two tomes - one for adults, and one for children.
For 2017’s offering, The Handsworth Times by Brighton-based Sharon Duggal has been selected as the book for adults, and Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) by A.F. Harrold was picked as the children’s choice.
The event, organised by Collected Works CIC, launches on World Book Day (March 2) and culminates on May 14 as part of the Brighton Festival.
Ms Duggal’s novel is set in Handsworth (where the author grew up) in 1981 and explores rising tensions as Thatcher’s Britain sees the closure of factories, the rise of unemployment and rioting. Against this backdrop, the Agarwal family experience their own tragedy in a story of loss and pulling together.
Ms Duggal said: “What an absolute honour to have my novel, The Handsworth Times chosen for City Reads 2017. It is quite a special thing to know that people from all walks of life across the city where I live and work will be coming together to read my book, just as I have done with many previous City Reads selections. The Handsworth Times is ultimately a book about the hope we find in other people and it will be such a pleasure to have the opportunity to get out there and share the story with so many different people across this city via the inspired City Reads programme of events.”
A.F. Harrold’s novel is about a boy who lives in a travelling circus. Although the circus may seem like a place of fun and wonder, Fizzlebert gets bored as he’s the only child there. To remedy this he joins a library, and finds his adventure...
Mr Harrold said: “Young City Reads is a fantastic initiative and it’s great to hear Fizzlebert’s been picked this year. Hopefully it’ll put a smile on some faces and an embarrassing snort of laughter in the back of the room every now and then when you’re supposed to be getting on with more serious things.”
Residents will be encouraged to read the books, and take part in City Reads events, which include the City Reads Book Quiz on March 22, a Literary Salon at the Regency Townhouse on March 29, and Sharon Duggan in conversation at the Brighton Festival on May 14. On May 23 A.F. Harrold will be at the Brighton Dome, accompanied by the illustrator Sarah Horne, for an interactive schools finale.
Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival said: “We are delighted that City Reads and Young City Reads are part of Brighton Festival again this year - building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. The importance of empathy and community is central to our Guest Director Kate Tempest’s vision for the Festival as a whole, making Sharon Duggal’s powerful debut particularly fitting as a choice for City Reads. And with this year’s guest director our youngest in the role to date we are particularly pleased to be providing an opportunity to encourage young booklovers to come together to discuss and share their love of reading – and hopefully nurturing a new generation of artists and art lovers for the future.”
For more on the event, visit: cityreads.co.uk