Portrait of an Anxious Nation
with Tom Bolton & James Meek
Since the referendum in 2016, the nation has been split into two; one-half dreaming of leaving, the other of remaining. Tom Bolton (Low Country, Vanished City) and James Meek (Private Island, 2015 Orwell Prize winner) have searched the UK landscape for political folk legends and forgotten stories which may help us to make sense of our tumultuous present.
Tom Bolton is a writer and researcher. He writes books and essays about cities, places, landscape and culture.
He is the author of Vanished City: London’s Lost Neighbourhoods, London’s Lost Rivers: A Walker’s Guide and Camden Town: Dreams of Another London. Website
Low Country: Brexit on the Essex Coast
In 2016 Tom Bolton set out on a mission to walk the long, winding coastline of Essex — from Purfleet on the Thames Estuary to the Suffolk border.
In the treacherous mudflats and coastal resorts of England’s eastern edge, an alternative vision begins to emerge, shaken by Brexit and the rise of new, populist politics in Britain and America. In this low country of vast horizons, where land and sea are in constant flux, Bolton discovers a hidden history of invasion, resistance and radical thinking. Low Country repositions the edgelands of Essex at the political and imaginative heart of England. Find out more
‘A wide-raging and fascinating book taking in people, political and newsworthy events, and the changing industry, landscape and use of the coastal region’ – Caught by the River
James Meek was born in London and grew up in Scotland. His first novel, McFarlane Boils The Sea, was published in 1989. Since then he has published six more works of fiction: Last Orders (stories, 1992) Drivetime (a novel, 1995) The Museum Of Doubt (stories, 2000) The People’s Act of Love (a novel, 2005) We Are Now Beginning Our Descent (a novel, 2008) and The Heart Broke In (a novel, 2012).
People’s Act, which was published in thirty countries, was longlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prize and the Scottish Arts Council book of the year prize. Descent won the 2008 Le Prince Maurice Prize. The Heart Broke In was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa Prize. In 2014 his book of essays about privatisation, Private Island, won the Orwell Prize.
James has written for a number of newspapers and magazines, and is currently a contributing editor to the London Review of Books. Website
Dreams of Leaving and Remaining
In March 2019, the UK will leave the EU, facing an unpredictable future. Since the referendum in 2016, the nation has been split into two dreams of leaving and remaining. During this period, James Meek, who has been described as ‘the George Orwell of our times’, went in search of the stories and consequences of this rupture. He discusses the desire to leave with farmers and fishermen, despite the loss of protections and fears of the future that this might bring. He reports as a Cadbury’s factory is shut down and moved to Poland, in the name of free market economics, and how it impacts on the local community left behind. He charts how the NHS is coping with the twin burdens of austerity and an aging population.
Dreams of Leaving and Remaining is urgent reporting from the frontline of the crisis from one of our finest journalists. James Meek asks what we can recover from the debris of an old nation as we head towards new horizons, and what we must leave behind. He does not find any easy answers that will satisfy Brexiteers or Remainers, but instead paints the masterly portrait of an anxious nation. Read more
Programmed in partnership with Norfolk & Norwich Festival
Box office telephone 01603 766400