If I hadn’t already accepted an invitation to attend the first Capital Crime Festival in London some time earlier, I would have been tempted by a late summer jaunt to Corfu for the:


23rd to 30th September 2019


A Celebration of Literature and History on one of the Mediterranean’s most storied islands. With Sebastian Faulks, Sofka Zinovieff, Adam Nicolson, Peter Frankopan and more…

The chance to combine a couple of my favourite things – books and a holiday in the sun! And beer, and wine, and swimming in the Med, and . . .

Most of the events take place in Corfu Town and it’s a celebration of the island, its culture and history and literature; politics, food, poetry and good company in the home of modern western philosophy. The Corfu Literary Festival has a full and varied programme of talks and debates, readings and book signings.

To make the Brits feel at right at home there’s even a cricket match. If you know the town you’ll be familiar with the pitch and unusual wicket (below). The celebrated English cricket team of writers, known as the Authors XI, will be returning to Corfu for a rematch with the locals.

The Authors XI and local writers will take part in a series of talks, discussions, poetry readings, wine tastings and musical performances throughout the week. The programme has been designed to allow participants to enjoy much of the day in traditional holiday pursuits before attending events in the cool of the afternoon and early evening. Naturally, followed by drinks and food to which all festival-goers are invited. Readers will get plenty of opportunities to mingle with the artists and authors along the way.

“During the day, you can support the cricket, explore the island or simply laze the day away – then be stimulated in the evenings with talks by Sebastian Faulks, Sofka Zinoviev, Tom Holland on his new book Dominion, Elizabeth Speller, Frances Edmonds, Peter Frankopan, Adam Nicolson and others.

The festival was started in 2018 by Corfiot Nikos Louvros and his wife Annabelle Louvros, with the writer Alex Preston. It champions the rich culture of Corfu and celebrates the passion the Greeks and the British share for the arts.”

More information on the programme, flights and recommended places to stay on www.corfuliteraryfestival.com.

For further information please contact Emma O’Bryen on emma@obryen.co.uk, Mob: 07505 659641, Tel: 020 7619 0098.

By way of consolation for being unable to attend I get to review a couple of the new releases by authors attending the festival. But that’s for later, for now here’s a taster of the two books:

Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind by Tom Holland

Blurb: Christianity is the most enduring and influential legacy of the ancient world, and its emergence the single most transformative development in Western history. Even the increasing number in the West today who have abandoned the faith of their forebears, and dismiss all religion as pointless superstition, remain recognisably its heirs. Seen close-up, the division between a sceptic and a believer may seem unbridgeable. Widen the focus, though, and Christianity’s enduring impact upon the West can be seen in the emergence of much that has traditionally been cast as its nemesis: in science, in secularism, and yes, even in atheism.

That is why Dominion will place the story of how we came to be what we are, and how we think the way that we do, in the broadest historical context. Ranging in time from the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC to the on-going migration crisis in Europe today, and from Nebuchadnezzar to the Beatles, it will explore just what it was that made Christianity so revolutionary and disruptive; how completely it came to saturate the mind-set of Latin Christendom; and why, in a West that has become increasingly doubtful of religion’s claims, so many of its instincts remain irredeemably Christian. The aim is twofold: to make the reader appreciate just how novel and uncanny were Christian teachings when they first appeared in the world; and to make ourselves, and all that we take for granted, appear similarly strange in consequence. We stand at the end-point of an extraordinary transformation in the understanding of what it is to be human: one that can only be fully appreciated by tracing the arc of its parabola over millennia.

Kingfishers Catch Fire by Alex Preston

Blurb: When Alex Preston was 15, he stopped being a birdwatcher. Adolescence and the scorn of his peers made him put away his binoculars, leave behind the nature reserves and the quiet companionship of his fellow birders. His love of birds didn’t disappear though. Rather, it went underground, and he began birdwatching in the books that he read, creating his own personal anthology of nature writing that brought the birds of his childhood back to brilliant life.

Looking for moments ‘when heart and bird are one’, Preston weaves the very best writing about birds into a personal narrative that is as much about the joy of reading and writing as it is about the thrill of wildlife. Beautifully illustrated and illuminated by the celebrated graphic artist Neil Gower, As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a book to love and to hold, to return to again and again, to marvel at the way that authors across the centuries have captured the endless grace and variety of birds. It will make you look at birds, at the world, in a newer, richer light.

Paul Burke
September 2019