Paisley Book Festival 2021: Seven events not to be missed

Thursday 18th February, 2021

The Paisley Book Festival is going online for 2021 with a digital programme of events – and it begins on Thursday 18 February!

Reading and writing have been a great source of comfort for so many during lockdown – and the 10-day celebration will see a host of fantastic events for people of all ages and fans of all genres.

Paisley Book Festival has become a significant part of Scotland’s rich cultural landscape and this year’s excellent line-up of writers taking part, including the 2020 Booker Prize Winner, Douglas Stuart, confirms its place as a favourite for both authors and audiences.

You can enjoy events from writers from across the UK and further afield from the comfort of your own home between Thursday 18 – Saturday 27 February.

Shows and events will be streamed via the Paisley Book Festival YouTube channel – subscribe to the channel to be notified every time an event goes live.

Ahead of the festival, we take a look at seven events you definitely don’t want to miss


Opening Event: Radical New Futures 

Join in the launch of this year’s festival and get a taste of what’s in store over the next ten days. On the bill is poet, playwright and performer Hannah Lavery, whose recent works include The Drift and Lament for Sheku Bayoh, and writer Laura Waddell, whose recent book, Exit, is a wide-ranging exploration of exit signs and what might be on the other side. Renfrewshire local Alan Bissett will also discuss his new novella, Lazy Susan, which explores many possible futures for a young social media influencer on the party scene.



Scottish Masculinities with Douglas Stuart, Andrew O’Hagan and Graeme Armstrong 

Join Kirstin Innes as she chats to three Scottish novelists who have shone a light on the complexities of masculine identity, offering parallel lives from Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Glasgow. Andrew O’Hagan’s Mayflies made headlines last year for its sensitive and honest portrayal of male friendship, whilst Graeme Armstrong’s The Young Team draws on its author’s own experience coming of age amidst gang culture and sectarian violence. Douglas Stuart’s Booker-winning Shuggie Bain won hearts with its portrayal of young Shuggie and his mother Agnes, struggling to get by in the schemes and coming to terms with his sexual identity.



The Writer-in-Residence presents

This event celebrates the community outreach work that Imogen Stirling has facilitated through her role as Paisley Book Festival’s first Writer-in-Residence over the past few months. Join her as she welcomes some of Paisley’s finest to share the work they have created together during her residency. Imogen will also be revealing an inspiring new product, which reflects the collective input of the residency workshop participants and represents the radical spirit of the Paisley community.



Writing Dystopias: Adam Roberts in conversation with Katie Hale

We welcome two writers who look to the dark side of the future, and ask what reason there is to still be hopeful. Adam Roberts, best known for his fantasy and science fiction, introduces It’s the End of the World: But what are we really afraid of?, as he explores the psychology behind our obsession with the apocalypse. Chaired and led by fellow dystopian writer Katie Hale, whose debut novel My Name is Monster – inspired by Robinson Crusoe and Frankenstein – imagines a post-Sickness world where one person believes they are the only one left.



Radical Voices with Tannahill Arts and Heritage

Tannahill Arts and Heritage brings world-class artists to Paisley, including the finest homegrown talent. In this unique collaboration with Paisley Book Festival, poetry old and new will be brought to life in new music composed and performed by Paisley’s own composer Alan Fleming-Baird, soprano Stephanie Strachan, and pianist Toni James. By bringing music and words together, these artists fuel the imagination and explore themes of poverty, love, our relationship with the natural world and the human condition. Enjoy an intimate, expressive, musical meditation that steps back in time in order to look to the future.



Janey Godley: Frank Get The Door

Janey Godley is a multi-award-winning comedienne, playwright, blogger, author and journalist from Glasgow, who has performed her comedy shows and one-woman play around the world. Last year she was described as a ‘national treasure’ for her hilarious voice over videos of the First Minister, which brought much needed light relief to the Scottish public during the pandemic. In this special event, Janey chats with Jenny Niven about how Frank Get The Door made it into print, as well as some further writing projects she’s got in the pipeline.



Festival Finale: The Bookshop Band

Celebrate the end of Paisley Book Festival 2021 with a special performance curated on the theme of Radical New Futures from The Bookshop Band. This offspring of an artistic love-affair between a duo of English folk singer-songwriters and a multi-award winning independent bookshop, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Wigtown, Scotland. They write and perform songs inspired by books – and have released 13 studio albums featuring many of the authors they have worked with. Join in and raise a toast to the rest of 2021 (and beyond), and the bookish delights it will bring!

Between 15 February – 26 March 2021, Paisley Book Festival will also feature a schools programme with a series of videos created by some of the UK’s most talented children and YA authors. Take a closer look at these videos here.

Remember to check out the full programme for Paisley Book Festival 2021 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