Waterstones, Kensington, hosted the London launch of That Summer in Puglia on 27 March, just four days after the Oxford Literary Festival debut. The launch took the form of a conversation with award-winning author Rachel Seiffert (A Boy in Winter, The Dark Room, The Walk Home), after an introduction by Alexandra Payne, Managing Editor of Eyewear Publishing. I’m very grateful to Rachel for her support: one of my tutors on the Goldsmiths MA in Creative Writing, she saw the novel develop from its early stages.
Her interview centred on three extracts from That Summer in Puglia, to introduce the audience to the principal characters and their relationships as well as to the book’s style and themes. Our discussion flowed naturally from there. The public contributed questions, comments and personal experiences. The book is set in the southern Italian region of Puglia, but its themes are universal: the perils of unresolved grief; the importance of all forms of love; the relationship between love and virtue.
The Waterstones event being only the second on my schedule, it was heartening to spot in the audience a great number of familiar faces: friends, and Goldsmiths MA faculty and colleagues. I’m so grateful to them all for sustaining me during the process of writing the novel. The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Cllr. Marie-Thérèse Rossi, and Cllrs. Addenbrooke and Pascall attended in their official capacity, as a gesture of civic gratitude: I was touched, as I’ve taught creative writing workshops at Kensington Central Library since 2013 on a pro bono basis, but hadn’t expected special thanks. I’m grateful also to Waterstones, and especially to its Kensington events manager, for the organisation and publicity. As a debut author, seeing the shop window filled with my books felt slightly surreal.
The next London presentation of That Summer in Puglia will be at the Italian Cultural Institute on 16 April at 7 pm. The interviewer will be Rosie Goldsmith, the acclaimed journalist, presenter, literary critic and Chair of the EBRD Prize.
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