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Oxford Literary Festival returns as it launches 2024 programme

The Oxford Literary Festival is returning this year with events aimed at attracting younger festival goers and addressing the global issue of food insecurity. The event will run from 16 to 18 March and is in partnership with Oxford University, Bodleian Libraries, and Netflix. 

The festival has been running for 27 years, and it continues to host speakers and events in Oxford’s historic locations like the Sheldonian Theatre, the Weston Library, and a variety of Oxford’s colleges. The festival invites speakers of varying backgrounds and cultures to offer insight into the festival themes and debate topics – which this year are centred on issues concerning access to nutritious and affordable food.

Notable programmes fulfilling the festival’s theme include Dr. Amir Khan’s talk titled “Compassion in World Farming” and an animal rights activist Gary Fracione’s panel on the future of our food sources. 

As a literary festival, the event will also feature a wide range of authors. The Bodleian Libraries’ highest award, the Bodley medal, is set to be awarded to Ali Smith at the festival. Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid will lead a panel on crime writing, and children’s author Jacqueline Wilson will give a talk in the Sheldonian Theatre on her career.

Non-fiction authors are equally represented with Angela Saini delivering a talk on her book The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule. Amin Ghaziani will also be interviewed about his new non-fiction book Queer Nightlife – How the Closing of Gay Bars Sparked a Revolution.

Debate panels will be held, some engaging with guests and taking audience questions. These will be hosted by journalist and author Yasin Alibai-Brown with panellists Dr Liam Fox MP and journalist Hardeep Matharu. 

As well as talks and debates, the festival will offer literary tours of Oxford and special tours aimed toward families. 

Netflix is running workshops for local schools to develop their own festivals with pupils having the opportunity to meet authors and scientists. The goal in the long run will be to encourage festival attendance in a younger generation. 

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