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Crime, India, Radicalism: Off the Shelf reveals stellar line-up

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The line-up for Off the Shelf Festival of Words 2017 has been revealed…

Now one of the largest literary festivals in the UK, this year’s Off the Shelf will welcome celebrated authors and public figures including Lee Child, Robert Webb, Harriet Harman, Richard Osman, Henry Blofeld, Melvyn Bragg, Hollie McNish, Brian Blessed, Laurie Penny and George Monbiot.

Held at venues across Sheffield, and run by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield, with funding from the Arts Council, this year’s festival takes place over three weeks and covers a wide range of interests – including three central themes: Crime, India, and radicalism.

Sheffield will welcome internationally acclaimed crime writer, Lee Child, whose event will be a main feature of the crime weekend curated by Professor Chris Wigginton, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Development and Society at Sheffield Hallam.

Lee said: “It will be a pleasure and a privilege to come back to Sheffield for such a world-class event.  In my time there the city was always buzzing with talent, and I'm glad it still is."

Professor Wigginton said of thecrime weekend: “I am delighted that we have been able to bring together a crime theme that it is truly reflective of the breadth and depth of the very best crime writing of today.

"Both the city and the festival have a long and close association with crime and writing in its variety of forms and genres, and it is upon these foundations that we wanted to develop something with slightly more critical mass for this year.

"We are fortunate to have the very best of writers contributing to this theme this year and I, for one, cannot wait for it to begin."

A crime afternoon on Sunday 15 October includes multi award winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Kate Summerscale, a talk on detective fiction from Lisa Hopkins, Professor of English at Sheffield Hallam, discussions on the use of forensics in crime novels by authors Elly Griffiths and Simon Beckett, and a rare appearance by best-selling crime author Philip Kerr discussing his latest novel, Prussian Blue. 

The India strand features film, food, poetry, history and literature and is part of the Year of India celebrations nationally, with recognition of the 70th anniversary of partition.

Lee Child © Axel Dupeux - use.jpg
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Sunjeev Sahota, a previous Off the Shelf visiting author with his Man Booker Prize novel, The Year of the Runaways, returns as an interviewer for the in conversation event with award-winning director and cinematographer Billy Dosanjh, as part of the India theme.  Sunjeev said: "This is a great festival: imaginatively curated and wholeheartedly engaged in the civic life of the city. It's wonderful."

Dr Debjani Chatterjee MBE, author and poet, will run a poetry workshop with Professor Bashabi Fraser inspired by the international legacy of one of the world’s recognised creative geniuses, Rabindranath Tagore.

Professor Mike Braddick from the University of Sheffield curates the radicalism strand with thought provoking talks on everything from the Peasants’ Revolt to the Russian Revolution.

Other Off the Shelf events include Magical Books on The Moor with an afternoon of activities and storytelling celebrating magical fiction including Harry Potter; an afternoon of poetry at the Samuel Worth Chapel in Sheffield’s General Cemetery; a cooking demo and three course meal by Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Chetna Makan; and a celebration of the spoken word and oral tradition from the Sheffield Somalian community.

The Festival Fringe also presents a series of diverse and vibrant events organised by community groups and individuals.

You can buy Off the Shelf tickets here.