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8 June 2023
6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
All ages welcome
Manchester Poetry Library
This event marks the release of the paperback of Laura’s fourth novel, This Beating Heart, a novel that challenges us to “think more creatively when it comes to happiness, and especially to the shapes that our families might take.” (Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer) Laura is joined by Livi Michael. We will be celebrating the launch of Livi’s new novel Reservoir, a novel about memory, guilt and reinvention.
Love to Read is a programme established to encourage students at Manchester Metropolitan University to read for pleasure. “Reading for pleasure” or “leisure reading” are both terms used interchangeably to mean reading done primarily for enjoyment. This includes the reading of fiction or non-fiction books. Love to Read showcases some of the excellent reading material held at Manchester Metropolitan University Library and Manchester Poetry Library that might not necessarily be connected to our students’ academic studies. For Manchester Festival of Libraries 2023, we would like to welcome students, staff and the public to join us.
About This Beating Heart
At forty-three, Christina Lennox thought her future was settled: marriage to Ed, children, a house of their own. But this is not that future: her marriage has ended, fractured by the stress of five rounds of IVF and two miscarriages. Overwhelmed by grief and disappointment, Ed has relocated to San Francisco and Christina’s dream of becoming a mother rests on persuading him to let her go ahead with one final round of IVF, using the last frozen embryo they have stored at the clinic.
But when Ed drops a bombshell that threatens to undo everything Christina has strived for, she is forced, once again, to realign her plans: is this the end of her dream, or an opportunity to consider a different – perhaps happier – version of her future?
At the International Conference Centre in Geneva, Hannah Rossier, formerly Annie Price, comes face to face with Neville Weir, someone from her childhood whom she never expected, or wanted, to meet again. As Neville’s reasons for attending the conference become clear, the dark waters of Hannah’s past start to rise. Hannah is a psychotherapist, with a specialist interest in memory and how connections are made between past and present. She has reinvented herself successfully, moving from a small northern town in England to Lucerne, Switzerland, with her husband, Thibaut.
Nobody, not even Hannah, knows the full truth about herself. Her ‘memories’ consist of glimpses of the place where she played in childhood, known simply as ‘The Wild’. Over the three days of the conference she has to decide whether she can avoid Neville, or whether she should submit to an encounter with him and with her past. And in her keynote lecture about the neuroscience of memory, how much to conceal or reveal. But can her specialism save her from drowning?
About Laura Barnett
Laura’s first novel, The Versions of Us, was a number-one bestseller. The book is published in the US by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and in 23 other languages – including German, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Czech and Mandarin. Her second novel, Greatest Hits, is also published in the UK by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, in the US by Europa Editions, and in various other countries and languages. As an arts journalist and theatre critic, she has written regularly for The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph and Time Out London. Her non-fiction book, Advice from the Players, is published by Nick Hern Books. Laura lives with her husband Andy, son Caleb and cat Eno (after Brian, since you’re asking) in rural Kent.
The fiction she loves best takes the world we know, and our own familiar, everyday lives, and renders them rich and strange. Among the writers who’ve most inspired her along the way – and continue to inspire her – are Anne Tyler; Alice Munro; Joyce Carol Oates; Elizabeth Jane Howard; Tessa Hadley and Richard Yates. As well as novels, she writes short stories, and teaches creative writing – she’s a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, she teaches for Curtis Brown Creative and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. She has also worked as a mentor for the charity Arts Emergency (they’re amazing – check them out), and the writers’ development agency Spread The Word.
About Livi Michael
Livi Michael has published several novels for adults, young adults and children, many of which have won, or been nominated for, awards. Her twentieth novel Reservoir was published in March 2023 by Salt Publishing. Her play, Singers Not Sinners, was performed at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph, and at St Mary’s Church Oldham in 2022.
Her short stories have been published in several magazines and anthologies including Granta, Interpreter’s House, Metropolitan, The Manchester Review, and The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories. In 2022 she was long-listed for the BBC National Short Story Award. She runs a monthly podcast series Small Pleasures, about the short story with the writer and translator Sonya Moor, and was the keynote speaker at the ENSFR Short Fiction as World Literature Conference in Lisbon in October 2022. She has also edited several anthologies of short stories. Livi is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Visit Manchester Poetry Library during Manchester Festival of Libraries 2023. Manchester Poetry Library is Manchester’s newest library, and we are open to the public. Throughout the festival, we will be running 20 minute introductory tours of the library Wednesday to Saturday at 12.30pm. Family activity packs will be available, so please come explore our children’s section. We stock an extensive collection of poetry journals and books in different languages. You are also welcome to explore our poetry on vinyl collection. So, if you’ve not visited us yet, why not come along during the Festival of Libraries 2023 to find out about membership, our programme and what’s on offer. We are open to all.
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