Protest: Stories of Resistance at Birmingham Literature Festival

29 Apr 2018 - 5.00PM - 8.00

Whatever happened to British protest?

For a nation that brought the world Chartism, the Suffragettes, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and so many other grassroots social movements, Britain rarely celebrates its long tradition of people power. A timely and evocative collection, Protest: Stories of Resistance includes contributions by 20 authors who have re-imagined key moments of British protest - from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003. Written in close consultation with historians, sociologists and eyewitnesses – who also contribute to the afterword – these stories follow fictional characters caught up in real-life struggles, offering a street-level perspective on the noble art of resistance.

We are delighted to bring together Liverpool-born author and comedian Alexei Sayle and Birmingham novelist Kit De Waal to discuss their stories on the Anti-Vietnam War Demonstration and Malcolm X’s visit to Smethwick. Kit will be joined by historical consultant and equal rights activist Avtar Jouhl to discuss her story, and the event will be chaired by the book's editor, Ra Page.

Venue: The STUDIO, Birmingham REP

Tickets: £10 / £8 (concs)

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About the speakers:

Avtar Singh Jouhl was born in Jandiala Manjki, Punjab, India, and has lived and worked in Smethwick since 1958. As a trade unionist, he has spent most of his life campaigning against racism, and for equality in rights and opportunities, working with the Indian Workers' Association of Great Britain and the Labour Party. In 1995, he chaired the TUC Black Workers' Conference.

Liverpool-born author Alexei Sayle is a comedian (with numerous TV appearances to his credit, including The Young Ones, Comic Strip, and Alexei Sayle's Stuff), novelist and a short story writer. His debut short story collection Barcelona Plates was published to widespread acclaim in 2000, and was followed by The Dog Catcher (2001), and the novels Overtaken (2003), Weeping Women's Hotel (2006), and Mister Roberts (2008). The two volumes of his autobiography are Stalin Ate My Homework (2010) and Thatcher Stole My Trousers (2016).

Kit de Waal was born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, and brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 60's and 70's. Her debut novel, My Name is Leon, was a Times and international bestseller, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the British Books Awards Debut and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. Her second novel, The Trick to Time, will be published in March 2018. Her prize-winning short stories and flash fiction appear in various anthologies. In 2016, she founded the Kit de Waal Scholarship at Birkbeck University.

Ra Page is the Founder and CEO of Comma Press, an independent publisher based in Manchester. He’s the editor of numerous anthologies, including The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories (Penguin, 1999) and most recently Protest: Stories of Resistance (2017), and co-editor of The New Uncanny (winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, 2008) and Litmus, voted one of 2011’s books of the year by The Observer. He read Physics and Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford and has an MA in English from the University of Manchester.