Off to the Sahel – via Essex

Ros Green, the new director of the Essex Book Festival, tells me she is keen to develop a travel-writing strand, and for the next festival (March 1 to March 31) has booked Alistair Carr, author of The Nomad’s Path (IB Tauris), who will recount his journey across the Sahel with Tubu nomads during a Tuareg rebellion (Wednesday 4).

Also on the bill are Jules Pretty, author of The Edge of Extinction: Travels with Enduring People in Vanishing Lands (Cornell University Press), who will argue that we have lessons to learn from people who still live close to nature (Friday 6); Ann Morgan, who will discuss her new book Reading the World (Harvill Secker), a journey through literature inspired by a quest to read a book from every country (Thurs 26); and Rachel Lichtenstein, currently working on Estuary: A Deep Exploration of Place (to be published by Penguin next year), who will talk about her research into the trades, myths and edgelands of the Thames estuary (Wednesday 11).

Green has also commissioned as the festival’s first writer-in-residence John Osborne, who will be located on Southend Pier train for a day. From there he will write the “Southend Appendix” to his 2014 book Don’t Need The Sunshine, which omitted Southend from its odyssey of British seaside towns. Southend was not pleased and Osborne is keen to set things right.  For details, see mercurytheatre.co.uk (under “What’s on”) or telephone 01206 573948.

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