Crowds flock to Queen's Park Book Festival 2021

A packed tent at the Queen's Park Book Festival 2021

A packed tent at the Queen's Park Book Festival 2021 - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

Young authors, new writers, established heavy weights and refugee comedians kept audiences enthralled at Queen's Park Book Festival.

Over two days the festival offered an eclectic array of literary tips and secrets, hard-hitting current affairs and raw spoken word across its three tents, including a free community tent.

For book lovers it was a battle between the heart and the soul.

Day one on September 18 began with a choice between listening to Ricky Hill and Pat Nevin talking about racism and discrimination in football,  or absorbing the tale of Afghanistan medic Dr Waheed Arian as he talked about his book In the Wars: A Doctor's Story of Conflict , Survival and Saving Lives.

From there it was stellar a line-up including local authors Annie Macmanus – talking about her book Mother Mother – and ex-Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman undressing the difference between clothes and fashion with novelist Linda Grant.


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Espionage with Ben Macintyre and Roland Philipps; grief, love and loss with Rev Richard Coles; and food with Thomasina Miers,  Fran Warde and Ed Wyland followed.

Award-winning Andrew O'Hagan had the crowd in his hand when he said he grew up in a house without any books, only a green telephone directory.

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"Libraries saved my life," he said. 

Raising the roof was Howard Jacobson who returned to interview John Mullan about his new book The Artful Dickens.

The academic interviewed Howard at the festival in 2019 about this novel Live a Little and the pair entertained the crowds again.

Howard told the crowd: "This is my favourite literary festival in the whole world, with possible exception of Jaipur because Jaipur has elephants."

There was also a packed line up in the community tent, where artists are unpaid and entry is free to the public.

Willesden's Yvonne Bailey-Smith talked of her novel The Day I Fell off My Island, about the effects of displacement on children moving from the Caribbean to England, with the UK's first Black female publisher, Margaret Busby CBE.

Also popular was the work of local writers in Queen's Park Voices – Roy Mehta talking about Revival, his intimate portraits taken of Brent residents 30 years ago, and Women in Journalism, with Shyma Perera, Jennifer Nadal, Monica Porter and Kuba Shand-Baptiste.

Spoken word artist Queen's Park Book festival

The Big What! Spoken word artists Basmah Mohamed, Sharmay Mitchell, Karrla Hopwood, Aaron Daniel, Hannah Gordon and Chris Beschi aka Poetcurious - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

The Big What! featured performance poetry by Lashay Green, Basmah Mohamed, Sharmay Mitchell, Hannah Gordon and Karlla Hopwood; and there was stand-up comedy by refugees in No Direction Home, in association with charity Salusbury World.

Willesden Green authors Elizabeth Fremantle and Yvonne Bailey-Smith were judges of the Young Writers Award which was expanded to include two categories – under-12s and 12-16s.

May Thein, who was in year 6 at Malorees won with her "wonderfully imaginative piece of creative writing" How Recycling Came To my Rescue.

Blessica D'Costa, from St Claudine's, won with her untitled story about a river blocked by a dam.

For the first time organisers opened a bar for a post-celebration party with authors and the festival team, which included a stall from Queen's Park's Wolfpack.

QPBF director Thomas Du Plessis said: "How wonderful it has been to be together again this weekend and celebrate the joy of reading, writing and books.

"I have been moved and delighted by the stories and conversations we've heard as I'm sure have all of you.

"This festival will come back next year and will return every year with the support of you our audience, so I cannot thank you enough for joining us this weekend." 

Queen's Park councillor Neil Nerva, who attended the event, said: "A big thank you to the organisers of the QPBF 2021. Excellent event showcasing lots of local authors and writers.

"Look forward in future years to closer working between Brent libraries, schools and the QPBF."

The festival is run in association with the Queen's Park Residents' Association.

Queen's Park Voices hosted by Chrys Salt MBE at the Queen's Park Book Festival

Queen's Park Voices hosted by Chrys Salt MBE with John Morrison, Louise McStravick, Judith Amanthis, and Amanda Epe at the Queen's Park Book Festival - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

Ricky Hill talks about his book Love Of The Game at Queen's Park Book Festival

Ricky Hill talks about his book Love Of The Game at Queen's Park Book Festival - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

Dr Waheed Arian in conversation with Tom Goodman at Queen's Park Book Fest

Dr Waheed Arian in conversation with Tom Goodman - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

Georgina Godwin interviews Annie MacManus at Queen's Park Book Festival

Georgina Godwin interviews Annie MacManus at Queen's Park Book Festival - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Linda Grant and Alexandra Shulman at QPBF 2021

Linda Grant and Alexandra Shulman at QPBF 2021 - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Howard Jacobson discusses John Mullan's The Artful Dickens in the Alexander McKenzie stage at QPBF 2021

Howard Jacobson discusses John Mullan's The Artful Dickens in the Alexander McKenzie stage at QPBF 2021 - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

The highly popular Community Tent at Queen's Park Book Festival 2021

The highly popular Community Tent at Queen's Park Book Festival 2021 - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

Margaret Busby CBE with Yvonne Bailey-Smith

Margaret Busby CBE with Yvonne Bailey-Smith - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

No Direction Home comics L-R Edin Suljic, Charly Monreal, Selam Amare and Krzysia Balinska

No Direction Home comics L-R Edin Suljic, Charly Monreal, Selam Amare and Krzysia Balinska - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Former England footballer Ricky Hill, author of Love Of The Game, at the Queens Park Book Festival 

Former England footballer Ricky Hill, author of Love Of The Game, at the Queens Park Book Festival - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

Local DJ turned author Annie Macmanus

Local DJ turned author Annie Macmanus - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

Taking five minutes between programmes at the Queen's Park Book Festival

Taking five minutes between programmes at the Queen's Park Book Festival - Credit: Cathy Teesdale

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