Worlds Literature Festival

Worlds 2014 took place from Monday 16th – Friday 20th June, and was the 10th annual Worlds Literature Festival. Aptly, the theme was 'nostalgia’, and featured JM Coetzee, Xiaolu Guo, Julia Franck, Ivan Vladislavic, John Carey, NoViolet Bulawayo, Bernice Chauly, Louise Doughty, Adam Foulds, Helen Mort, Owen Sheers, James Scudamore, Sharlene Teo and many more.  


Featuring readings, salons and talks, there was a lot going on this year - to find out more about Worlds 2014, scroll down for videos, blog posts and podcasts of the events.

Although much of Worlds is a private Salon, we also had a selection of “reads”, which were open to the public, and featured many of our Worlds writers, plus we had an evening with JM Coetzee, Xiaolu Guo, Julia Franck and Ivan Vladislavic, and John Carey in conversation with D J Taylor. 

The Salon

At the heart of Worlds Literature Festival is the private Salon. Across the week, writers are invited to give provocations which act as a starting point for discussion. In 2014 writers were invited to give provocations on the theme of Nostalgia. To find out more about the theme, and to read some of the provocations, you can read this blog post. Or scroll down to hear and watch the writers presenting their provocations. 

(Anthea Bell, J M Coetzee, George Szirtes and Kate Griffin)

 ‘Is Nostalgia a Bromide?'  - A provocation from Denise Riley  | Read about it 

'The Want of War’ –A provocation from Owen Sheers   | Read about it |  


'The Ecstasy of Impossibility’ - Provocation from James Scudamore 


‘The Words are Worn Out’ - Provocation from Wojciech Tochman


'Laminating Life' - Provocation from Akhil Sharma  


 'Re- inventing Home – Selective Memory of a Half Forgotten Place’ - Provocation from Kerry Young  


'Bloodlines’ - Provocation from Bernice Chaulym 


‘Nostalgia for “Auteurs” – Stop being a Word Smith, be a Vanguard Visionary!’ - Provocation from Xiaolu Guo  


Rounding off Worlds 2014, George Szirtes gave a summary of the provocations that had been enjoyed and debated throughout the festival. 

What is the Worlds Literature Festival and how can I get involved?

Worlds celebrates great writing by bringing together writers from across the globe to take part in reading and discussion both public and private in Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature. You can get involved with the Worlds Literature Festival by coming along to readings from the Worlds writers, attending Playhouse events,listening into the discussions that take place each day with the writers, and joining in the discussion on social media – as well as reading blogs and papers.

Read the Worlds 2014 Brochure

Worlds 2013

Worlds 2013 took place from Monday 17th- Friday 21st June and featured Geoff Dyer, Esther Freud, Michelle de Kretser, Ruth Ozeki, Sjón, Evie Wyld, the Moomins and many more.

Most of our 2013 Worlds events took place in the beautiful venue of the Hostry, at Norwich Cathedral in the heart of the old quarter of the city. Over the five days of Worlds there were public evening events, a series of free Afternoon Reads and the private writers' salon.

Click on the event you're interested in to view blogposts, photos, podcasts and YouTube videos:

The Launch of 26 for Norwich

Tove Jansson: Between Light and Dark

Granta Norwich Launch - The Best of Young British Novelists 4

The Launch of Into the Light: The Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Meir of Norwich

Worlds Festival Free Reads

The Salon

View the Worlds Literature Festival 2013 brochure and see the participants.

The Launch of 26 for Norwich

Worlds Literature Festival opened with the launch of 26 for Norwich. A collaborative project with writers’ group 26, 26 for Norwich chose 26 historic Norwich writers, paired these figures with professional writers and UEA students and asked both the students and professional writers to compose a piece in response to the historic writer they’d been paired with. In short, the project celebrates the city’s past, present, and future writers, and Norwich as a UNESCO City of Literature.

The launch brought 26 writers Sara Sheridan, John Simmons, and Elise Valmorbida to Norwich. Each read their extract to a packed room, and explained a little about their creative process. (Read their extracts and creation stories on the 26 for Norwich website.)


Watch Elise Valmorbida read on YouTube. 

Listen to Sara Sheridan read her piece inspired by Elizabeth Fry.

Listen to John Simmons read his piece in response to John Skelton.

Listen to Elise Valmorbida read her piece on Wiliam Godwin.

Find out more about Norwich 26, and read all the pieces online.

Tove Jansson: Between Light and Dark with Esther Freud, Sam West, Sjón and Rebecca Swift

This event brought together The Literary Consultancy's Rebecca Swift, poet and Jansson fan, Esther Freud (author of Hideous Kinky), who wrote the foreword to The Summer Book, actor Samuel West (Howard’s End), voice of the Moomin app and Icelandic writer Sjón for an evening dedicated to writer and artist Tove Jansson. The sold-out event explored the work and life of Tove Jansson, with particular reference to the Moomins and her novel The Summer Book.

Read Rowan Whiteside's blogpost on the event; 'A Writer's Dilemma: Tove Jansson, More than the Moomins'.


Read a Storify of the event.

Listen to a podcast of the Tove Jansson event.

Granta’s once a decade publication of The Best of Young British Novelists is one of the biggest events in the literary calendar, so naturally WCN was delighted to host the Norwich launch of The Best of Young Novelists 4. Novelists Evie Wyld and David Szalay were joined by Ted Hodgkinson, former online editor of Granta. Both David and Evie gave short readings, then discussed their writing.

Read Rowan Whiteside's blog on the event; 'Best of British and Novelists’ Fears'.


Listen to a recording from the event

The Launch of Into the Light: The Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Meir of Norwich

As part of the UNESCO City of Literature bid, previously unknown poems by the only medieval Hebrew poet; Meir of Norwich were discovered. These poems were translated to English by Ellman Crasnow and Bente Elsworth and edited by Keiron Pim, before being released in UNESCO publication Into the Light: The Medieval Hebrew poetry of Meir of Norwich.

The launch was held in the stunning fifteenth century building Dragon Hall, and featured speeches from translators Ellman Crasnow and Bente Ellsworth, an introduction from Kieron Pim, performances from the London Cantorial Singers and a closing reading from poet George Szirtes.

Find out more about the book and purchase your copy online

Read WCN Intern Caterina Incisa's blog on the event; 'Meir Ben Elijah: Out of the Dark and Into the Light'

Listen to a recording of the entire event.

Worlds Festival Free Reads

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of Worlds we offered free readings from the Worlds writers; giving audiences a great opportunity to feast on the best in world literature and to discover new writing.

Tuesday’s Free Read featured Rozalie Hirs, Rachida Lamrabet, Bejan Matur, Marcel Möring and Neel Mukherjee.


Wednesday’s Free Reads starred Tash Aw, Chandrahas Choudhury, Melissa Lucashenko and Zhang Yeuran.

The third and final Free Reads took place on Friday with Michelle de Kretser, Masashi Matsuie with Michael Emmerich, and Ruth Ozeki and was hosted by Kate Griffin, International Programme Director at the British Centre for Literary Translation.


Read Rowan Whiteside's blog reporting on the Worlds Festival Free Reads: 'Worlds Literature Festival Free Reads: An Introduction to New Worlds of Literature'.

The Salon

At the heart of Worlds Literature Festival is the private Salon. Across the week, writers are invited to give provocations which act as a starting point for discussion. In 2013 writers were invited to give provocations on the theme of Ways of Writing: Ways of Reading.

Katy Carr, Communications Director, wrote a series of blogs reporting on the Salon provocations:

The power of storytelling: Sjón’s provocation
Listen to a recording of Sjón's provocation.

What is the internet doing to writers? Ruth Ozeki’s provocation.
Listen to a recording of Ruth's provocation.

Is the literary novel dead? Marcel Möring’s provocation.
Listen to a recording of Marcel’s provocation.

Are apps the future of writing? Rachel Lichtenstein’s provocation.
Listen to a recording of Rachel's provocation.

If we stop reading novels what might we lose? Eric Abrahamsen and Peng Lun’s provocation.
Listen to a recording of Eric and Peng's provocation.

Listen to Masashi Matsuie and Michael Emmerich’s provocation:The power of ‘I'.

Listen to Geoff Dyer's provocation: Spheres of influence.

Listen toGeorge Szirtes sum up the Worlds Salons.

Worlds Literature Festival Brochure

See the writers and literary professionals who participated in Worlds 2013 and read their biographies. 

Previous Worlds Literature Festivals

See the writers and literary professionals who participated in Worlds 2012.

View the brochure from the Worlds Literature Festival 2012. 

Read about Worlds Festival 2011.