Welcome to Charleston’s annual celebration of short stories in all their different shapes and guises. 2017’s variety confirmed that although the texts may be compressed, the short form contains multitudes in terms of topic, tone and style. They all provide glimpses into the human condition and leave echoes in the mind, despite, even because of, their brevity and restraint.
We tell ourselves stories to make sense of complicated times, so it’s no surprise that we have sessions revolving around the plight of refugees, what it means to be British in contemporary society and the art of protest. This year’s Small Wonder includes many nationalities and storytelling traditions, as well as a special session highlighting current writing from the Caribbean, in all its vigour.
This year’s recipient of the prestigious Charleston-Bede’s Award for a Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction is Penelope Lively. We also hosted readings from the BBC National Short Story Award and the Sunday Times EFG International Short Story Award. Mark Haddon and Alison MacLeod present new stories inspired by Bloomsbury. The actor Eve Best, who played Vanessa Bell in the TV series Life in Squares, brought the festival to a close by reading from the newly published letters of Sylvia Plath, together with critic Sarah Churchwell.
For aspiring writers, we ran two workshops plus a session with successful debut authors alongside a top agent and publisher. And an innovation for this year, there were two Open Mic sessions for those who want to try out new work in The Nook, our quirky marquee bar nestled in the new Centenary Garden
All this plus Leweslight illuminating our garden paths with their eclectic/electric flare.
Diana Reich, Artistic Director
Tanya Andrews, Festival Programmer