Writing Real Life from Brexit to Grenfell


Manage episode 245356208 series 1301164
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Ali Smith, Jay Bernard and James Graham join Matthew Sweet at the British Library in a discussion organised with the Royal Society of Literature. Making art from real events is as old to writing as the pen – older. But what happens when the events you are writing about are recent, or happening as you write? What are the writer’s duties to fact? How can writing bear witness to contemporary moments of social upheaval or human disasters? In writing the ‘now’, where does non-fiction stop and fictive creation begin? In this discussion, three writers, across forms, consider how to write real events. Ali Smith has published three novels in a four-novel seasonal cycle, Autumn, Winter and Spring, exploring time, society and art in the context of Brexit Britain. Jay Bernard’s collection, Surge, explores the significance of events ranging from the New Cross Fire in 1981 to the 2017 Grenfell disaster. James Graham’s play The Vote took place in the last 90 minutes before polls closed in the 2015 General Election, and was broadcast live on Channel 4 on election night. His 2019 drama for Channel 4, Brexit: The Uncivil War, explored the very recent history of the Brexit referendum. Producer: Zahid Warley.

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