BOOKS: A Double Celebration for the Love of Literature; Jenny Ousbey Looks Forward to a Brace of Literary Festivals Next Week

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Byline: Jenny Ousbey

The region's love of literature comes to the fore this week with not one but two literary festivals taking place over the next week.

First up is the Birmingham Orange Book Festival, which opened yesterday with a talk by former Beirut hostage Brian Keenan, whose latest book, Four Quarters of Light, charts his magical journey through Alaska as a travel writer.

The event, now in its sixth year, will feature around 50 activities and events during the course of its week-long run, including 11 workshops and three book launches.

Highlights include a talk on New Labour and the situation in Iraq by Clare Short MP, which takes place today, a writing masterclass with Rotters' Club authorJonathan Coe on Tuesday, October 11 and an "in conversation" event with Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat on Wednesday, October 12.

The Birmingham Post's arts editor, Terry Grimley, will be taking part in the festival on Monday, October 10 when he and journalist Christian Wolmar, whose book On the Wrong Line, delivers a scathing attack on the last 20 years of rail development in the UK, discuss the local and national issues underpinning transport policy.

Book launches include Sampad's new anthology of poetry written by 12-18 year olds interested in South Asian culture, a new history of Birmingham by Malcolm Dick and the debut novel by Sutton Coldfield-based Christine Coleman, entitled The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society

There will also be performances from the newly appointed Birmingham Poet Laureate and the highly anticipated BBC Radio 3 version of Geoffrey Hill's poem Mercian Hymns in the beautiful setting of St Martin's Church. …