Cover stories: Literatures of the Commonwealth, Writing on the Wall, Dylan and Elvis

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Two literary festivals running concurrently, from 17 to 23 June, in neighbouring cities take contrasting approaches to the Commonwealth and its literature. In Manchester, where the Commonwealth Games begin soon, Cherie Booth QC, Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and Sir Trevor McDonald are the star turns at a fundraising dinner to open Literatures of the Commonwealth, directed by Carcanet Press publisher Michael Schmidt – a Mexican, no less! A celebration of "the diversity of our literatures" that will also raise funds to help bring Commonwealth writers to the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, the festival boasts names such as Germaine Greer, Margaret Atwood, Paul Muldoon, Nadine Gordimer, Les Murray and Arundhati Roy. Details at:, or on 0870 7870037. Meanwhile, down the M62 in Liverpool, the Writing on the Wall festival takes a more sceptical approach, with a session asking, "Whose Commonwealth is it anyway?" Film and music features alongside books and writing, and Irvine Welsh, Kevin Sampson, Linda Grant and Jimmy McGovern are among the attractions. Details from:

It was always assumed that Bob Dylan wouldn't write his memoirs, in part because he wouldn't remember much – and because he's just too cool. News that he had agreed a multi-book deal with Simon & Schuster thus caused a certain consternation. The rumour was that he had already written thousands of words and had hired a team of young researchers to refresh his memory – but that he had not signed a contract. Now he has and, while there is a good deal of wrangling in New York over the cover, Chronicles Volume I will be published in October, by Scribner in the UK. Covering his early days in New York and rise to fame, it is said to be "vague but evocative".

16 August is the 25th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. The occasion will be marked by the publication of Elvis: A Celebration, part of Dorling Kindersley's growing list of illustrated pop volumes. A lavish tome compiled by Mike Evans under the watchful eye of the Presley Estate at Graceland, it will include candid photos of Elvis, together with rare memorabilia.

With the first anniversary of "9/11" three months away, Publishers Weekly in the US has counted 411 books on the subject.