O'Brien, Mitchell, Pascoe, Faber (Toby) and Henry headline at Faber showcase

People - Books Wednesday, 20 February 2019

90-year-old publisher introduces 2019 list

Faber introduced a packed audience of booksellers to highlights from its 90th birthday list at the Crypt on the Green in Clerkenwell.

The evening opened with the 88-year-old Edna O'Brien reading from her forthcoming novel Girl, about a young woman kidnapped and incarcertated in Nigeria. John Lanchester described how he had broken off one project in order to write his novel about ecological disaster The Wall, the first inspiration for which had come to him in a dream about standing guard on a wall with the waters lapping on the other side; "My big ambition for the book is that I'm wrong," he said. Claire McGlasson read from The Rapture, based on a real religious sect in Bedford - the cover of the novel is a picture of the heroine's bedroom. Emma Carroll read from a wartime children's story from her collection When We Were Warriors.

Jon Savage (The Searing Lights, the Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division: The Oral History) recalled his time in Manchester during the brief flourishing of Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Joe Dunthorne read witty poems from his collection O Positive. Claire Adam, in seductive accent, read from the Trinidad-set Golden Child. Sara Pascoe (Sex, Power, Money) reflected on men and sex workers. David Mitchell (Dishonesty Is the Second Best Policy) explored the implications of believing the world was flat. Nathan Filer, whose novel The Shock of the Fall won the 2013 Costa Book of the Year, read a powerful passage from his non-fiction work The Heartland: Finding and Losing Schizophrenia. Another author who has worked for the NHS, former clinical psychologist Bev Thomas, read from A Good Enough Mother, about a psychotherapist whose son is missing.

Max Porter, author of the acclaimed Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, gave a bravura reading from his follow-up, Lanny. Rachael Allen read dark poems from Kingdomland. Lenny Henry (Who Am I, Again?, due in October) told us the extraordinary story of how he had discovered his real father.

There was a book about Faber itself, by a Faber - founder Geoffrey Faber's grandson, and former Faber md, Toby (who pointed out that he has also had books published elsewhere): Faber & Faber: The Untold History of a Great Publishing House. Toby read briefly from a letter to Geoffrey from TS Eliot, recalling their long working relationship and friendship.

Photos from top: (left) John Lanchester, Faber publisher Alex Bowler, David Mitchell; Emma Carroll (right) and her editor Stella Paskins; Walter Dononue of Faber and Lenny Henry

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