Nicola barker

Nicola Barker spent her childhood between England and Apartheid-era South Africa where her mother taught children in the townships after the School Boycotts and worked for the country's leading black educational newspaper The Learning Post.

She is the author of thirteen books, including The Yips (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), Darkmans (shortlisted for the Booker, the Ondaatje, and winner of the Hawthorndon Prize), and Wide Open (winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), as well as two short story collections, including Love Your Enemies (winner of the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award). Two of her short stories have been adapted for British television and one, ‘Dual Balls’, was shortlisted for a BAFTA.

She was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2003 and her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives and writes in London.


Charlotte Mendelson is the author of four critically-acclaimed novels and is the winner of many literary prizes. In 2007 she was named one of Waterstone's 25 authors of the future.

Her most recent novel Almost English was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. When We Were Bad was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and was chosen as a book of the year in the Observer, Guardian, Sunday Times, New Statesman and Spectator. Her second novel Daughters of Jerusalem won both the Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was shortlisted for the Le Prince Maurice Prize. Rhapsody in Green her memoir of an obsession, is published in September 2016. 

She broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio and lives with her family in London.

Sunjeev Sahota 

Sunjeev Sahota is an award-winning English writer born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. His background is Sikh, and his paternal grandparents emigrated from the Punjab region of India in 1966. 

His first novel Ours are the Streets was was called 'nothing short of extraordinary’ by the Observer and he was named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2013. His second novel The Year of the Runaways was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015 and he is currently Writer in Residence at Leeds Beckett University. In 2016 he also won both the Encore Prize and the Sky Arts Southbank Award.

He continues to live and work in Derbyshire.

An extract from The Year of the Runaways is presented as part of the Year of Language and Literature 2016's ‘New writing from the UK: a competition for Russian translators of English’.

Owen Sheers 

Owen Sheers is a novelist, poet and playwright brought up in Abergavenny in Wales.

His first collection of poetry, The Blue Book (2000), was shortlisted for a Forward Poetry Prize. His debut prose work The Dust Diaries (2004) was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and was named Wales Book of the Year Award 2005. His poetry collections include the Somerset Maugham Award-winning Skirrid Hill. In 2009 he wrote and presented the TV series ‘A Poet’s Guide to Britain’. His novel Resistance has been translated into 11 languages and was made into a film in 2011. He notably took his script for the National Theatre’s site-specific 72-hour production The Passion into novel form as The Gospel of Us. His latest novel I Saw A Man was shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger.

He is currently chair of PEN Cymru and Professor in Creativity at Swansea University.

Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh is the author of many short stories and seven novels, The Cutting Room (2002), Tamburlaine Must Die (2004), The Bullet Trick (2006), Naming the Bones (2010), The Girl on the Stairs (2012), A Lovely Way to Burn (2014) and Death is a Welcome Guest (2015). Her has received doctoral honours from Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Iowa for her writing. She wrote the libretto for the Olivier-shortlisted opera ‘Ghost Patrol’ to music by Stuart MacRae (2012). She collaborated again with MacRae on ‘The Devil Inside’, an opera inspired by a R.L. Stevenson’s short story. The opera toured Britain in 2016.

In 2014 Louise was co-founder and director of the Empire Café, an award winning multi-disciplinary exploration of Scotland’s relationship with the North Atlantic slave trade.

She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

Ruth Borthwick

Ruth Borthwick, CEO of Arvon Foundation, the UK’s leading organiser of residential creative writing courses and retreats in rural writing houses, offering participants of all experience levels the time and space to write.

Ruth Borthwick has been Chief Executive of Arvon since 2009. She has worked with writers for over 30 years in bookselling and publishing, and she co-founded London’s Spread the Word with Bernardine Evaristo, to encourage new voices to emerge and tell their stories.

Ruth was also Head of Literature and Talks at the Southbank Centre, where she brought leading international artists to UK audiences, and founded Imagine, the children’s literature festival.