On Friday 17th July 2015, an exciting brace of events will take place in the centre of Nottingham to mark the launch of ‘These Seven’: a fascinating collection of seven short stories from contemporary Nottingham writers, including a rare Alan Sillitoe story.
At 6.30pm a flashmob of readers will descend on Nottingham’s Old Market Square to read a copy of ‘These Seven’, or a book by any of the contributors: Brick (John Stuart Clark), Shreya Sen Handley, Paula Rawsthorne, Alison Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Megan Taylor and John Harvey. Organisers are hoping that several hundred people will get involved, all celebrating our city and its wonderful way with words. Everyone is welcome, and copies of the book will be available from Five Leaves Bookshop staff beforehand.
This flashmob follows the success of the Dawn of the Unread reading flashmob last July, when over 400 Nottingham citizens sat down to read at Speaker’s Corner under the watchful gaze of Brian Clough’s statue.
This event will be followed by the official launch of the “These Seven” book within the Council House, with readings from the book given by the authors (Alan Sillitoe will be represented by his friend, acclaimed novelist Nicola Monaghan).
The collection was commissioned and published by Nottingham’s Five Leaves Bookshop (the first independent bookshop to open in any UK city centre this century) as part of Nottingham’s ‘Big City Read’ project – Nottingham’s Stories.
Big City Read is a national initiative where a city chooses one book, and residents are encouraged to read it together, through a variety of events and opportunities to come together. The intention is to combat illiteracy, and bring reading to those who might otherwise miss out. These projects show that reading is a vibrant, live pastime; and one that is inclusive, open to all.
Nottingham’s Stories, a Nottingham City of Literature project funded by Arts Council England, is unique for not one, but two reasons.
First, rather than select an existing book to use for the event, organisers chose to commission a new book containing a variety of stories, from Paula Rawsthorne’s gritty young adult story of a refugee boy facing deportation, through Brick’s graphic reimagination of the story of Simeon the Stylite and Megan Taylor’s anxious wait in Market Square for a childhood friend, to Man Booker-shortlisted Alison Moore’s chilling tale of a family holiday that doesn’t go to plan.
Second, the project deliberately encourages Nottingham’s people to write their own stories, fact or fiction, through a series of author readings and writing workshops in schools, prisons, reading groups, community centres, libraries and a wide range of other venues. People will be able to share their stories on the project’s website, submitting their own take on Nottingham and life in this great city.
Shreya Sen Handley, author and contributor to These Seven
The flash mob will be wonderfully cool; quite radical too, as most flash mobs have to do with singing and dancing: that it is about reading is in keeping with our being a City of Literature. I am delighted to be so closely involved with it all.
Pippa Hennessy, of Nottingham Writers’ Studio and project director for the Nottingham City of Literature.
I’m really excited about this project, because it brings Nottingham’s stories to Nottingham people, and allows them to tell their own stories which, we hope, will capture the unique spirit of this city.
Sheelagh Gallagher of Bromley House Library, the prime mover on the project
This started out as a simple idea and now it's going to be a terrific city-wide project.
Individuals and groups, everyone in the city, can get involved in a great read and a chance to write too. It's the icing on the cake of our City of Literature bid. I'm looking forward to lots of exciting events, new connections and a great opportunity to celebrate our city and share our love for reading and writing.