A Festival of Literature and Social Change

Waterstones Piccadilly 28th April – 1st May


Writers of the World Unite brings the world to Waterstones Piccadilly. Over four days, we’ll talk Russian revolutionary poetry, debate identity politics in the age of globalisation, discover how Caribbean literature makes its own rules and look at the radical potential of graphic novels. Plus renowned writers and activists will tell us about the books that changed how they look at the world.

Venue & DATE

Waterstones Piccadilly
Open Map
28th April – 1st May
View Events
28th April
29th April
30th April
1st May


Throughout the weekend:
The Word Factory Apprentices

Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th April

Emily Devane
Divya Ghelani
Claire Adam

Meet The 2016 Word Factory Apprentices Emily Devane, Divya Ghelani and Claire Adam, all of whom will be with us over the festival weekend. 

This year The Word Factory’s theme is “Citizenship – The New Story” which explores the boundaries of culture, politics, identity in the literary imagination. What is the writer’s responsibility to liberty and justice? How do writers help shape culture and understanding? (For further details please visit thewordfactory.tv)

Emily, Divya and Claire will be blogging and tweeting throughout Writers of the World Unite as well as launching a special Word Factory Flash Fiction competition. 

Join them at The Word Factory desk to find out more!

Register (free)
London’s Young People’s Laureates Poetry Shoutout!

Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th April

Aisling Fahey
Belinda Zhawi

Join the current Young People's Laureate for London, Caleb Femi, for regular poetry performances around Waterstones Piccadilly on Saturday and Sunday. Spread the Word's YPL for London scheme, gives London's young people a voice through poetry and he'll be joined by previous Laureates: Zia Ahmed, Aisling Fahey and Belinda Zhawi, shouting loud about what matters to them.

Register (free)
Little Atoms Little Salon

Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th April


On Saturday 29 and Sunday 30, Little Atoms takes over Waterstones' Mezzanine Cafe to host our own literary salon, hosting brilliant writers and friends of Little Atoms for a weekend of impromptu interviews, discussion and debate.

Register (free)


Zia Ahmed

Zia Ahmed is from North West London. He is a former Roundhouse Poetry Slam champion and was commissioned by Paines Plough and Tamasha theatre company to write a short play for the national Come to Where I’m From project. Throughout 2017, he is on attachment with Paines Plough as a recipient of the prestigious Channel 4 Playwrights’ scheme.

Claire Adam

Claire Adam grew up in Trinidad & Tobago and lived in the US, Italy and Ireland before settling in London. Her debut novel is forthcoming from Faber & Faber (UK & Commonwealth), Hogarth Press
(US & Canada) and Lattès (France).

Boris Akunin

Russia’s leading detective and crime writer, Boris Akunin also writes literary novels as well as essays, history books and plays. His recent multi-volume, popular history project, entitled “History of The Russian State”, combines both non-fiction and fiction.

Sadia Azmat

Sadia Azmat is a British Asian stand-up comedian and writer. In 2011 she was a finalist in the Funny Women awards and made her Edinburgh Fringe debut with her show ‘Please Hold – You’re Being Transferred to a UK Based Asian Representative’. Since then Sadia has had multiple appearances over BBC radio and has toured both her solo shows.

JJ Bola

A Kinshasa-born, London-raised writer, poet and educator, J J Bola has published three books of poetry. His work is centred on a narrative of empowerment, humanisation and healing of trauma as well as discovery of self through art, literature and poetry. J J Bola reads at shows and festivals across the UK and the US.

Paul Burston

Paul Burston is the host of award-winning LGBT literary salon Polari and founder of The Polari First Book Prize. His books include Shameless (shortlisted for the State of Britain award), Star People, Lovers & Losers (shortlisted for the Stonewall Award) and The Gay Divorcee. His latest novel, The Black Path, was longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize.

Neil Denny

Neil Denny is the Interviews Editor of Little Atoms, in which capacity he has interviewed hundreds of people from astronauts to zoologists, hosted numerous live events at science and literary festivals, co-created an art installation about space travel, attempted stand-up comedy, and driven 6,000 miles across America interviewing scientists as part of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travelling fellowship.

Emily Devane

Emily Devane lives and writes in Yorkshire. Her stories can be found in The Nottingham Review, The Lonely Crowd and the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology. She recently won the Bath Flash Award with her piece 'The Hand That Wields The Priest'.

Sasha Dugdale

Sasha Dugdale is a poet, translator and editor. She has published three poetry collections. Her poem ‘Joy’ won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016. She is currently working on translations of Maria Stepanova’s poems for publication in the UK. Sasha is editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and co-editor of the international anthology Centres of Cataclysm (Bloodaxe, 2016).

Aisling Fahey

Aisling Fahey was Young Poet Laureate for London with London’s writer development agency Spread the Word in 2014 – 2015. She has performed in various locations across England, Ireland, America and India, including the Barbican, the Houses of Parliament and Glastonbury.

Caleb Femi

Caleb Femi is the 2016-17 Young People’s Laureate for London. Caleb’s poetry commissions include the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature and The Guardian. As a filmmaker, he has released two documentaries, What Did Love Taste Like In The 70s? and Heartbreak & Grime.

Xiaolu Gao

Xiaolu Guo is a novelist, essayist and filmmaker. She was born in China in 1973 and moved to the UK in 2002. Her novels include A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers and I Am China. In 2013, she was named a Granta’s Best of Young British Novelist Her latest book is Once Upon A Time in the East.

Divya Ghelani

Divya Ghelani holds an MA in Creative Writing from UEA and an MPhil in Literary Studies from the
University of Hong Kong. She writes short stories, scripts, and is working on the completion of her debut novel which has been longlisted and shortlisted for four literary awards.

Rosie Goldsmith

Arts journalist and broadcaster - covering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa - Rosie Goldsmith is founder of the European Literature Network and helped launch European Literature Night at the British Library in 2009.

Vesna Goldsworthy

Vesna Goldsworthy was born in Belgrade in 1961, but has lived in London since 1986. She is the author of four books: Inventing Ruritania, on the shaping of cultural perceptions of the Balkans; a poetry collection, The Angel of Salonika, memoir Chernobyl Strawberries and the novel Gorsky.

Paul Gravett

Paul Gravett is a London-based freelance journalist, curator, lecturer, writer and broadcaster who has worked in comics publishing and promotion since 1981, starting at pssst! magazine. He is the editor of various books including 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die (2011). His latest book is Comics Art (2013/4).

Alison Green

Alison Green is an art historian, critic and curator with twin interests in contemporary art and the legacies of Modernism. She teaches history and theory of art at Central Saint Martins where she is Course Leader for MA Culture, Criticism and Curation. 

Alexis Gregory

Alexis Gregory is a London based actor, playwright, producer and theatre maker. His plays include Slap, Safe, and the upcoming Bright Skin Light exploring the early AIDS crisis in 1980's London. His work has been performed at Channel 4, Soho Theatre, Stratford East, Arcola, The Bush, St James' Theatre and London Theatre Workshop.

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera

Colombian-born Oscar Guardiola-Rivera is the author of What If Latin America Ruled the World? and Story of a Death Foretold, two award-winning accounts of Latin America today. He teaches Philosophy, Art and Law at Birkbeck College, University of London, and lectures around the world.

Saleem Haddad

Saleem Haddad was born in Kuwait City to an Iraqi-German mother and a Palestinian-Lebanese father. He has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières and other international organisations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt. His first novel, Guapa, a political and personal coming-of-age story of a young gay man living through the 2011 Arab revolutions was published in 2016.


Igort is an Italian comics artist and illustrator. He has written 13 graphic novels and been published in fifteen languages. The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks, his latest book to be translated into English, is a collection of two harrowing works of graphic nonfiction about life under Russian foreign rule.

Juliet Jacques

Juliet Jacques is a writer, journalist and critic based in London. She has published two books: Rayner Heppenstall: A Critical Study and Trans: A Memoir. Her short fiction, essays and criticism have appeared in Granta, The Guardian, The White Review, Sight & Sound, Frieze, London Review of Books and many other publications.

Owen Jones

Owen Jones is a columnist for the Guardian and the author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class and The Establishment – And How They Get Away With It


Fergal Keane OBE is a BBC Special Correspondent and the author of Books including Road of Bone, Seasons of Blood and Letter to Daniel. His next book, Wounds: A Memoir of Love and War, is published in September.

Vaseem Khan

Vaseem Khan is the bestselling author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, a crime series based in Mumbai, India, and featuring a baby elephant. His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was translated into 10 languages. His latest novel is The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star.

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in 1952 in Chapelton, Clarendon, Jamaica. He came to London in 1963.He is the first black poet to have his work included in Penguin’s Modern Classics series, under the title Mi Revalueshanary Fren: Selected Poems.  In 2003 Johnson was bestowed with an honorary fellowship from Goldsmiths College.

Hannah Lowe

Hannah Lowe’s first poetry collection Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013) won the Michael Murphy Memorial Award for Best First Collection and was shortlisted for the Forward, Aldeburgh and Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prizes. Her memoir is Long Time No See (Periscope, 2015), and her latest poetry collection is Chan (Bloodaxe, 2016).

Rory MacLean

Rory MacLean is the author of 12 books including Stalin's Nose and Berlin: Imagine a City, a portrait of the city across 500 years. His latest book, Pictures of You: Ten Journeys in Time’, is based on photos from the Archive of Modern Conflict.

Diego Marani

Diego Marani is a prominent and prolific Italian novelist, as well as a senior official at the European Union. His novels include New Finnish Grammar, The Last of the Vostyachs  and The Interpreter.

Sophie Mayer

Sophie Mayer is the author of Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema and The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love. Her most recent poetry collections are (O) (2015) and kaolin, or How Did a Girl Like You Get to Be a Girl Like You (2015). She writes regularly about gender, sexuality and culture for Sight & Sound, The F-Word, Literal, the Verso blog, and elsewhere.

Mervyn Morris

Mervyn Morris is Poet Laureate of Jamaica.  From 1966 until 2002 he was on the staff of the University of the West Indies.  His books of poems include The Pond, Shadowboxing, Examination Centre, On Holy Week and I been there, sort of:  New and Selected.  Morris’ latest book, is Peelin Orange: Collected Poems.

Ellie Mae O'Hagan

Ellie Mae O'Hagan is an editor at openDemocracy and a freelance journalist writing mainly for the Guardian. She has also written for the New York Times, the Independent, the Times, Vice, Foreign Policy and others.

Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is editor of Little Atoms, and a judge of the 2017 Paul Foot Awards for investigative journalism.

Leone Ross

Leone Ross writes magic realism, horror fiction, erotica and psychological drama. She has published two critically praised novels, All The Blood Is Red and Orange Laughter, which was shortlisted for the UK Orange Prize. Her short story collection, Come Let Us Sing Anyway, will be published in June 2017.

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of them novels, this year the outstanding Three Daughters of Eve, as well as other bestsellers The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. Elif is a judge of this year’s Man Booker International Prize.

Cristina Sánchez-Andrade

Cristina is a powerful voice in contemporary Spanish literature. Her latest novel The Winterlings, was praised by fellow Galician Manual Rivas as “radically new…original and unusual”, and gaining outstanding critical acclaim and several prizes, including an English PEN Award.

Gemma Seltzer

Gemma Seltzer has performed at festivals including Latitude and the Venice Biennale, written for Radio 3, and had her blog-to-book Speak to Strangers published in 2011. She collaborated with a photographer to create the digital literature project 5am London, capturing the city during the early hours of the day.

Maria Stepanova

The author of ten poetry collections and two books of essays. Her current project In Memory of Memory is a book-length study in the field of cultural history. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online independent crowd-sourced journal Colta.ru. which covers the cultural, social and political reality of contemporary Russia. Maria Stepanova's visit is sponsored by The Queen's College, Oxford.

George Szirtes

George Szirtes was born in Hungary in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He has published many collections, including Reel, which awarded the 2004 T S Eliot Prize. His most recent book is Mapping the Delta.

The Ukelele Lady and her Boy

The Ukulele Lady and her Boy is musician Jacqui Wicks and poet Ralph Dartford. Based in West Yorkshire, they are founding members of award-winning arts organisation, the Ossett Observer. They publish books, run carnivals, sing songs, and take lots of time out for tea and cake. Ralph runs the spoken word collective 'A Firm of Poets'.

Paula Varjack

Paula Varjack is a writer, filmmaker and performance maker. She has performed at numerous arts festivals and cultural spaces including: Glastonbury Festival, Berlin International Literature Festival and The Photographer's Gallery. She is the creator of the Anti-Slam, a satirical take on Poetry Slams where the lowest score wins.

Ava Vidal

Ava Vidal earned a living as a prison officer before turning to stand-up. Shejuggles motherhood with a hectic schedule as a comedian and commentator. A “face of the future”, she performs in the UK, America, Canada and Australia, and is an occasional journalist.

Belinda Zhawi

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean born writer and educator. Her work mostly focuses on displacement, sexuality, migration, and memories of living in rural & urban Zimbabwe. She’s performed across the UK in numerous venues, festivals & events including Africa Writes, Bestival, TATE, Barbican and the Southbank Centre.

Zinovy Zinik

Zinovy Zinik lost his Soviet citizenship in 1975 and arrived in London via Jerusalem in 1976. He has written 14 books in English and Russian. His recent books in English include an autobiographical History Thieves and a novel Sounds Familiar or The Beast of Artek.

Richard Marsh

Richard is a poet, playwright and performer. He's performed all over the country and internationally as far away as Scotland. Plays include Skittles / Love & Sweets (BBC Audio Drama Award, best scripted comedy), Dirty Great Love Story (Fringe First winner, co-written with Katie Bonna). Todd & God is coming this summer, the story of an atheist who starts hearing the voice of God. Awkward.

Vanessa Kisuule

Vanessa Kisuule is a writer, performer and spoken word artist based in Bristol. She has won several slam titles including most recently, Hammer and Tongue National Slam 2014 and the Nuoryican Poetry Slam in New York. Her debut poetry collection, Joyriding The Storm, was published in 2014 and her first show 'Sexy', will premiere at The Roundhouse next month.

Winnie M LI

Winnie M Li is a writer and producer. She was Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger 2015 and won second place in the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2016. She lives in London yet is somewhat addicted to travel. Her first novel is Dark Chapter.