Paisley Book Festival

Thursday 18 - Saturday 27 February, 2021

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Mon – Sat, 10am – 4pm

Having taken place for the first time in February 2020, the Paisley Book Festival will return in 2021 with a fantastic digital programme of events from Thursday 18 – Saturday 27 February.

This year’s festival will focus on the theme Radical New Futures – and the resilience and fortitude that people and communities have shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 10-day festival is a celebration of books, reading and writing – which have been a great source of comfort for so many people during lockdown, evidenced by increased borrowing figures at Renfrewshire Libraries.

The Paisley Book Festival 2021 will welcome the 2020 Booker Prize winner, Douglas Stuart, who will be joined by two other Scottish literary giants, Andrew O’Hagan and Graeme Armstrong.

Other headline events will include Janey Godley, Melanie Reid, Chris Brookmyre and Dr. Marisa Haetzman, writer for Small Axe series Courttia Newland, Salena Godden, Jenny Kleeman, Kirstin Innes, and Kate Charlesworth in conversation with Val McDermid. 

Events for children will include Ross Mackenzie, Vivian French, Patience Agbabi, Karine Polwart and Kate Leiper.

Setting the tone for the Festival on its opening night – Radical New Futures – will be poet, playwright and performer Hannah Lavery (The Drift and Lament for Sheku Boyah), writer Laura Waddell (Exit) and Renfrewshire local Alan Bissett with his new novella Lazy Suzan. The opening night will also include Newtopia: Women with Fierce Words, a multimedia performance of writing emerging from women’s disrupted lives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, presented by Women With Fierce Words and joined from India by the award-winning poet, Saima Afreen.

The Festival welcomes novelist, poet, performer, Kirsty Logan and author and singer-songwriter Malachy Tallack as guest curators. Kirsty has curated a strand Understories: Reclaiming the stories we think we know with authors Intan ParamadithaSarah Maria GriffinKiran Millwood HargraveRebecca TamasMichael Lee Richardson and Tasha Suri. Malachy welcomes authors Alastair McIntoshKapka KassabovaPatrick LaurieCal Flyn and Lisa Wollett to the festival as part of an event strand called A Place for Hope: land, loss and the politics of care.

Glasgow-based writer, musician, and educator, Imogen Stirling, is the Paisley Book Festival’s first Writer-in-Residence. This residency will see her hosting online workshops with Renfrewshire community groups in January and February 2021, and writing her own response to this year’s festival theme, Radical New Futures. Imogen will curate and host three festival events which include Imogen’s Big Night In with Dean Atta, Iona Lee and Emme Woods and Radicalism in Stillness with her  in conversation with Sarah Grant.

See the full programme of events across the 10 days here.

Whilst current restrictions mean that this year’s festival will be very different to its inaugural iteration back in February 2020, we are thrilled to be bringing the energy and spirit of Paisley and its people, their resilience and determination to look forward to a new and different future, to digital audiences this year. Whether you live in Paisley or not, we hope you’ll join us from wherever you are to celebrate the radical spirit that is well and truly alive in the world of books, and in the acts of reading and writing.

Jess Orr
Paisley Book Festival Co-Producer