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Birmingham Literature Festival announces journalist and writer Sathnam Sanghera as Guest Curator

The award-winning journalist and author of The Boy with the Topknot will take on the role of Guest Curator for the 2018 Birmingham Literature Festival (4-14 October).

Birmingham Literature Festival, which celebrated its 20th year in 2017, has today announced that journalist and writer Sathnam Sanghera will join the team as Guest Curator.

Sathnam, who has appeared at the festival a number of times over the years as both a guest speaker and an interviewer, was born in Wolverhampton and has based much of his writing in the region. In particular, his award-winning memoir The Boy with the Topknot, which was adapted for TV and broadcast on BBC2 in November 2017, tells the story of his childhood within a devout Wolverhampton Sikh family, where a family history of schizophrenia was a source of shame and worry.

Sathnam is looking forward to the opportunity to curate some unique events for Birmingham Literature Festival in 2018. He said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be curating the BLF next year… My home county has produced some of the best writers in Britain, from Jonathan Coe to David Lodge, Meera Syal and a certain bloke called William Shakespeare. Yet, too often it undersells itself. I hope we can help put it back on the cultural map.”

As Guest Curator, Sathnam will work alongside Antonia Beck who has recently been appointed as Festival Director.

Antonia has been working in a freelance capacity with the Birmingham Literature Festival since 2015. She is an award-wining theatre maker, creative producer and programme manager. Since 2008 Antonia has worked extensively in both practical and strategic roles across the creative sector, and has developed and curated a wide range of events and festivals working with hundreds of artists and organisations. Antonia says:

“I am delighted to be taking on the role of Festival Director for the Birmingham Literature Festival. It is an exciting time to be leading a new chapter for the festival, working with the brilliant team at Writing West Midlands to showcase key writers, artists and thinkers from the region and further afield. We are also very pleased that Sathnam will be on board this year as a Guest Curator. He is a passionate advocate for writers, books and ideas, and is a great champion for the West Midlands. I am very much looking forward to working with him.”

Antonia is currently working on the programme for the April Birmingham Literature Festival (27-29 April) and the October festival (4-14 October.)

For its 20th year, the Birmingham Literature Festival in October last year held its biggest event ever, with Brummie comedian and writer Joe Lycett chatting to MP for Yardley Jess Phillips in front of an audience of nearly 800 at a new partner venue, Birmingham Town Hall.

As well as hosting bestselling writers and offering a platform to celebrate Birmingham and the Midlands, Birmingham Literature Festival has built a reputation for showcasing an exciting, eclectic mix of speakers from all backgrounds and literary genres, both established and emerging. In 2017, the Stories Crossing Borders strand welcomed writers from Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and the Caribbean.

The Birmingham Literature Festival returns for a short Spring Edition on 27-29 April 2018, then the annual 10-day festival in October which runs 4-14 October 2018.

The programme for the Spring Edition Birmingham Literature Festival will be published in late February 2018. For tickets and full details of events, see



For more information, to request images or to arrange an interview, please contact Olivia Chapman on 0121 246 3083 or 0778 605 1892 or