Vital Discussions: Gwen Adshead and Val McDermid

Vital Discussions On Demand is a series of conversations created by the Royal Society for Literature.

Forensic psychotherapist Gwen Adshead and ‘the Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid have spent their careers exploring our interior worlds and the edges of society. Their conversation will span human cruelty, compassion, change and recovery, and how we find the words to describe the unspeakable parts of existence.

You can discover upcoming events from the RSL on their website here. You can also become a member of the RSL, offering the benefits and joys of a literary festival and book club, rolled into one, all year round. Purchase an RSL Digital Events Pass to access all RSL events for just £25 for a year.

Bessie Smith: Jackie Kay in conversation with Bernardine Evaristo

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The British Library and Faber Social present a celebration of Bessie Smith, pioneering blues singer and one of the biggest stars of the 1920s and 30s.

As a young black girl growing up in Glasgow, writer and poet Jackie Kay found in Bessie someone with whom she could identify and who she could idolise. Kay talks to award winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo about her new book on Bessie's life, which mixes enthralling biography with fiction, poetry and prose.

Plus a selection of Bessie Smith’s songs performed by special guest singer Nona Hendryx, most famously of the group Labelle.

Bessie’s life was as tempestuous as it was extraordinary. Born in Tennessee in 1894 and orphaned by the age of nine, Smith sang on street corners before becoming a big name in travelling shows alongside the likes of Ma Rainey. In 1923 she made her first recording for a new start-up called Columbia Records. It sold 780,000 copies.

Smith’s life was notoriously difficult: she drank pints of ‘bathtub gin’, got into violent fist fights, spent huge sums of money and had passionate love affairs with men and women. She once single-handedly fought off a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Her gorgeous and powerful voice, unapologetic songs and bold personality have been an inspiration to many ever since.

<b>Purchase your copy of Jackie Kay's <i>Bessie Smith</i> <a href="https://pagesofhackney.co.uk/webshop/product/bessie-smith-jackie-kay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a></b>

James Baldwin's America and its Urgent Lessons for Today

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With Eddie S Glaude Jr. A searing indictment of racial injustice in America, inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr of Princeton University follows the increasingly politicised journey of 'the poet of the revolution' James Baldwin, in the years from The Fire Next Time in 1963 to No Name in the Street in 1972. This was the time of the Civil Rights Movement, when attempts to force a confrontation with the truth of America's racism was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his new book Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Today, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance for our own times, a new era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Mixing biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma, and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to bring about a more just future.

Glaude will be in conversation with Rob Berkeley.

Click here to purchase <a href="https://pagesofhackney.co.uk/webshop/product/begin-again-james-baldwins-america-and-its-urgent-lessons-for-today-eddie-s-glaude-jr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><b>Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Today<b></b></a>

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