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Chelt Lit Fest

The book world’s hottest ticket, Cheltenham opens its arms to the cultural literati.

The longest running literature festival in the country, Cheltenham always draws in hu-uuge hitters. I volunteered there in the 1990s when American titans of literature Joseph Heller, Gore Vidal and Kurt Vonnegut all turned up. I was properly starstruck and proud as punch when I found Joseph Heller a whisky on the rocks – it was a Sunday when there was still old-school licensing laws, so this was no easy task. Still grateful to that janitor and his secret stash.

 

And this year the talent is no less juicy. I mean, Hillary Rodham Clinton! Promoting her new memoir What Happened, the first female US President that wasn’t to be will be giving a no-holds barred account of the rage, sexism, intrigue and shock of the 2016 election and how she’s weathered the aftermath (alternate nostril breathing apparently). Tickets are going to be hotly contested so I advise sitting on the festival’s Twitter or Facebook accounts now, so you’re first to know when they go on sale.

Other politicos with memoirs under their arms include Tory grandee Chris Patten, who will be talking to historian (and former Stroud boy) Peter Hennessy about his decades in office, and Alastair Campbell, who will be opening up about the Blair Brown transition as well as his own mental health struggles.

And on the literary bill are Salman Rushdie, whose latest novel The Golden House set in Manhattan follows the story of the American zeitgeist over the last eight years, Stroud-born author Alan Hollinghurst, who will be discussing The Sparsholt Affair, which explores shifting taste, class and human interaction, and Girl On The Train author Paula Hawkins whose second novel Into The Water is a chilling thriller that is making waves (sorry).

There are tons of other events, including loads of bookish events for kids and free, late-night gigs at the Hotel du Vin where you never know who you might bump into. This is the week where Cheltenham is the place to be…

Cheltenham Literature Festival, Fri 6 to Sun 15 Oct, cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature

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