London's most intimate literary event

I’m in London this weekend for cocktails and Soho stories at London’s most intimate literary event, The Word Factory #11 at The Society Club.

A night of short story readings, conversation & wine

Soak up all the atmosphere of London’s most intimate literary event in the company of master storytellers. This month their tales will take you from the heart of Soho to the further reaches of the imagination. Relax, let your mind wander and don’t forget to pass this email to your friends.

Saturday, 25th May

6-8pm at: The Society Club
12 Ingestre Place, Soho, W1F OJF

£10 on the door

Please RSVP to register your interest. Places are limited – see below for more details.

An RSVP puts your name on the door but turn up early to guarantee your place.

Helen Simpson

Helen Simpson is the author of five collections of stories, the most recent of which is In-Flight Entertainment. Last year Vintage Classics publishedA Bunch of Fives: Selected Stories,which included five stories from each of her five collections. She was chosen as the first Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists (1993), and has also received the Hawthornden Prize and the American E.M.Forster Award. She lives in London.

Ben Fountain

Ben Fountain is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. He has received the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, a Whiting Writers Award, an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards, among other honours and awards. His fiction has been published in Harper’s, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story and Stories from the South: The Year’s Best.

Roshi Fernando

Roshi Fernando was born and brought up in London and holds a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Wales, Swansea. In 2009 she was awarded the Impress Prize for New Writers, for her composite novel, Homesick a series of interlinked short stories about a community of Sri Lankan immigrants in London, published by Bloomsbury. In 2011 her story, The Fluorescent Jacket, was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story award. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories.

Anna Stothard

Anna Stothard is a novelist and travel writer. She has lived in London, Washington DC, Beijing and Los Angeles. Her first novel, Isabel and Rocco, was published in 2004, followed by The Pink Hotel in 2011, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. The Pink Hotel has been translated all over the world and is being made into a film by Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin. Anna’s latest book, The Art of Leaving, set in Soho about a girl obsessed by goodbyes and exits, is out now.

Frankfurt Book Fair

The first thing I saw on arriving at Frankfurt Book Fair was a woman in a skirt suit holding a bag of unbound proofs, bending to swap stilettos for luminous green trainers before rising – a look of intense, Olympian determination on her face – and sprinting off around the corner.  Just as she reached the tram her bag fell off her arm and papers scattered up into the rain, landing smudgily in puddles, but she didn’t even stop. I like to think she arrived at her meeting just in time to snap up international rights to the Next Big Thing, proof pages be dammed.

Through glass doors into the hall, I ventured out of the rain into a space where the air hummed: caffeine was being inhaled on escalators while Reservoir-Dog-type cliques of publishers marched down echoing airport-style hallways clutching spreadsheets and editors jogged the bookish assault course of the fair. I’d imagined some whimsical Emerald City or Disney Land of books and wasn’t disappointed – giant book covers, enormous shelves of novels reaching up the ceiling, a Tolkien-inspired waterscape in the New Zealand pavilion – but almost more interesting was the sense of the cogs moving the clock hands, deals being made, the mechanics of the international book world setting stories in motion.

I was a voyeur in the nuts-and-bolts of book selling, there to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of my German publisher, Diogenes. I spent the afternoon at the fair eavesdropping on agents gossiping about who was drunker last night, watched roomfuls of publishers and reps holding meetings, heads bowed over spreadsheets and galleys, pens bobbing, arguments erupting. Then all the earnest meetings stopped for the party on Friday night, when a six hundred strong crowd of booksellers, publishers and authors turned up to celebrate.

As the Diogenes Owl logo bopped away in lights on the walls of the club, I met booksellers who worked in Vienna and Dusseldorf and everywhere in between. In a small bar above the dance floor they set up a mini-library so while the party thumped on and the lights spun downstairs, up in story-heaven everyone could lounge over booze and books, deciding which novels to take home with them. If all clubs promised libraries in their chill-out rooms I’d go out dancing way more often.

Rumor has it that Diogenes danced on until sunrise and wore sunglasses to the fair the next day, but I stumbled out at three in the morning, bending to swap my stilettos for trainers in the rain.

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P.S. Pink Hotel has been getting press in Germany. There was an interview in Die Weltand in Süddeutsche Zeitung’s online magazine, Jetzt.com. It’s been reviewed in CosmoBrigitteDie RheinpfalzWelt Express, and by Christine Westermann on German TV. Liberatingly, I have no idea what any of them say….