Welcome to Small Wonder

This year’s Small Wonder pivots on the idea of transformations; very fittingly, as in its 15th year the festival will return to the renovated Hay Barn at Charleston. The changing, fluid nature of identity is a major theme across the programme taking inspiration from Orlando at the present time, one of the three opening exhibitions in our new galleries.

Olivia Laing’s Orlando-inspired commission, as well as new work by Sarah Hall, Eley Williams, Lucy Wood and Neil Bartlett, resonate with dualities and shape-shifting.

In the year of the 70th Windrush anniversary and an increasingly contentious debate around national identity, we explore the ever-changing nature of British society through the lens of poetry by Daljit Nagra, whose parents made Britain their home. In keeping with Charleston’s tradition of dissent, the incomparable orator Ben Okri explores the power of poetry as a vehicle of protest. And acerbic tales from the USA by Benjamin Markovits and Tom Rachman skewer contemporary America.

Continuing Charleston’s strong feminist heritage, we celebrate a diverse range of women’s voices across the festival. Imogen Hermes Gowar presents her gender-charged parable of Georgian London and AL Kennedy performs a dramatic female-voiced monologue in partnership with champion of women’s writing Mslexia.

Small Wonder continues in its mission to bring exciting new writing to our audiences, whilst also commemorating our illustrious forebears including Sylvia Plath as the second volume of her personal letters hits the press, Muriel Spark in her 100th year and Emily Brontë in her 200th.

We are thrilled to announce that this year’s Charleston-Bede’s Award for a Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction will be presented to Dame Antonia Byatt.

We look forward to welcoming you to our 15th Small Wonder festival – three days of transformation.

Diana Reich, Artistic Director
Tanya Andrews, Festival Programmer

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