Nottingham became a UNESCO City of Literature in 2015 and has been inspiring communities in the Midlands to read, write and enjoy words ever since. With a rich history of rebellion, Nottingham writers have changed the face of literature again and again; from book bans to Byronic verse. We are thrilled to feature a hand-picked list of books that capture the spirit of the city as part of Nottwich: this year’s annual meeting of the UNESCO Cities of Literature.
Nottwich is a celebration of the vibrancy of literature and an opportunity for us to discover how words can transform lives and connect cities worldwide. We are teaming up with Nottingham to host representatives from the UNESCO Cities of Literature Network in our cities. It is the first time all 28 cities will meet together in the UK.
Saturday Night Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe
Working all day at a factory leaves Arthur Seaton with energy to spare in the evenings. A hard-drinking, hard-fighting hooligan, he knows what he wants, and he’s sharp enough to get it. Before long, his affairs with married women become the stuff of local gossip. But one evening he meets a young girl and life begins to look less simple.
Alan Sillitoe was an English writer born in Nottingham and one of the so-called “angry young men” of the 1950s, a label he rejected. As one of Nottingham’s most famous contemporary authors, who chronicled working-class life in the region, he was made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham in June of 2008.
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence
Sons and Lovers is a semi-autobiographical masterpiece and one of the most powerful explorations of family, class, sexuality and relationships in youth and early adulthood.
Brought up in the mining community of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire during the industrial revolution, D.H. Lawrence led the way in his frank treatment of taboo subjects such as female sexuality, class and religion changing the face of English literature.
The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan
Kerrie-Ann’s doesn’t know who her father is, and her mother is a drug-addict. By the age of ten, she’s selling drugs at school. By twelve, she’s been beaten up by a customer, hidden stolen guns, done time in a girls’ home, and already has a taste for whizz. On the drug-riddled estate with an atmosphere as lethal as a killing jar, it seems that Kerrie-Ann doesn’t stand a chance. Unless she can make use of what Mrs Ivanovich taught her all those years ago.
Nicola Monaghan is a novelist, scriptwriter, short story writer and Nottinghamian. Her debut novel, The Killing Jar, is set in the estate where Nicola grew up and it won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Prize and the Waverton Good Read as well as receiving international acclaim. She lived and worked in London, Paris Chicago and New York before returning to her hometown of Nottingham.
The Accidental Memoir by Eve Makes & Anthony Cropper
This beautifully illustrated memoir is a book for writers and non-writers, teachers and students, the perfect book for anyone seeking inspiration or imaginative ways to explore their own life story. The concept was developed as an Arts Council project to help people tap into their own lives.
Anthony Cropper is a writer and workshop-leader who has worked with probation centres, refugee groups, schools and universities. He also leads the scriptwriting module on the Creative Writing MA at Nottingham Trent University. Nottingham-born Eve Makis has published four novels and tutors creative writing at Nottingham University. Her first book Eat, Drink and be Married was published in five languages and awarded the Young Booksellers International Book of the Year Award.
Smart by Kim Slater
There’s been a murder, but the police don’t care. It was only a homeless old man after all. Kieran is an artist-come-detective. He’s going to find out what really happened to Colin Kirk, a homeless man that wanted to live. And to his grandma, who just stopped coming round one day. Kim Slater’s debut YA novel, Smart, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2015 and the Federation of Children’s Book Groups 2016, and longlisted for the 2015 Carnegie Medal.
After years of sending work to publishers with no luck, Kim Slater enrolled on the BA English & Creative Writing and then MA Creative writing at Nottingham Trent University. Her debut novel Smart began life as a 3000-word short story assignment but with the support of her tutors and classmates, it develop into a full-length YA novel. Kim has since published three more YA books, all of which are set in her hometown of Nottingham.
A Gun For Hire by Graham Greene
The story, which has many parallels to Greene’s later, more famous novel Brighton Rock, follows Raven; an assassin who has brutally murdered a European Minister of War. As the nation prepares for battle, Raven goes on the run, hunted by the police and hunting an agent who has been double-crossing him.
Grahame Greene lived and worked in Nottingham for three months and set his thriller novel A Gun for Hire in a fictionalised version of the city; ‘Nottwich’. As well as novels, he wrote short stories, plays, screenplays and travel writing. His works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world.
More information about the UNESCO Cities of Literature Network is available for download here.
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