Read all about it: Jewish Book Week 2024 has a new name

Now billed the Jewish Literary Foundation’s Book Week, or Bookweek24, it has an eclectic line-up including Booker Prize nominee Sarah Bernstein


Chanukah delight: Sara Gibbs (Photo: Juliet McKee)

Jewish Book Week has a new name for its 73rd year. Now billed the Jewish Literary Foundation’s Book Week, or Bookweek24, it has an eclectic line-up including Booker Prize nominee Sarah Bernstein, poet Lemn Sissay, and former Israeli ambassador to the US Itamar Rabinovich.

The rebranding intends to highlight not just the festival’s coverage of literary writing, but also pop culture and current affairs. It features the festival’s first comedy night, a celebration of Leonard Bernstein with classic songs from West End stars, and a staged reading of Kafka.

Opening on 2 March with a discussion on what it’s like being Jewish in Britain today, the festival keeps a focus on the current situation in Israel, with the mix of political discussion and lighter events aimed at “addressing those issues, but also providing an escape — which are both perfectly valid responses to what’s going on”, says Book Week’s Tom Ryan.

Around a quarter of the festival’s 90 events, which take place at Kings Place in King’s Cross and online from March 2 to 10, are free of charge. The £5 ticket offer for under-30s continues.

Here are just some of the highlights:

Being Jewish in
Modern Britain

Saturday March 2, 7.30– 8.30pm

Tickets £20

l Woman’s Hour host Emma Barnett, Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson and Sally Berkovic, author and CEO of the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, in discussion with Hugo Rifkind.

Bats & Mitzvahs:
Jews and Cricket

Sunday 3 March 6.30–7.30pm

Tickets £16.50

l Daniel Lightman and Zaki Cooper are joined by retired cricketer Lara Molins Caplin and Matthew Engel, who edited 12 editions of cricket bible Wisden, for a discussion on the vast contribution Jews have made to the sport.

Lemn Sissay:
Let The Light Pour In

Saturday 2 March, 7.15– 8.15pm

Tickets £16.50

l Following his recent adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis for the stage, poet Lemn Sissay’s Book Week debut focuses on his celebratory collection Let The Light Pour In, written at dawn-break.

Burton & Taylor,

Saturday March 2 8.45 –9.45pm

Tickets £16.50

l The story of the iconic relationship between theatre actor Richard Burton and Oscar winner and Jewish convert Elizabeth Taylor is told by biographer Roger Lewis in Erotic Vagrancy. Lewis chats about celebrity, creativity and divorces with journalist Tanya Gold.

Kindertransport and Beyond

Sunday March 3 12.30 –1.30pm

Tickets £16.50

l This panel offers expertise and experience across nine decades after the Kindertransport, including Lady Milena Grenfell- Baines,one of 669 children rescued by Nicholas Winton from Czechoslovakia in 1939. Dr Andrea Hammel explores the complex visa waiver scheme that brought 10,000 young people to the UK, and Dr Eithne Nightingale curates oral histories from 1930 to today.

Nicholas Hytner in Conversation

Sunday March 3 12.30–1.30pm

Tickets £20

l Sir Nicholas Hytner’s Miss Saigon ran for a decade on both sides of the Atlantic, while Carousel and The History Boys won Olivier and Tony awards. He reflects on his tremendous career as theatre and film director, including 12 years at the helm of the National Theatre, with Olivier Award winning actor Elliot Levey.

Elif Shafak & Sarah Bernstein

Sunday March 3 2–3pm

Tickets £16.50

l Granta Best Young British Novelist Sarah Bernstein, Booker Prize-nominated for Study for Obedience, joins The Island of Missing Trees author Elif Shafak ahead of her much-anticipated 13th novel.

Book Week 24 Keynote: Simon Schama

Sunday March 3, 3.30 – 4.30pm

Tickets £20

l A regular at the festival, Sir Simon Schama reflects on his world-renowned work. The author of Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel and 2023’s Foreign Bodies, professor of history at Columbia, and BBC broadcaster joins Jewish Literary Foundation director Claudia Rubenstein in conversation.

Itamar Rabinovich: Middle Eastern Maze

Sunday March 3 6.30–7.30pm

Tickets £20

l A rare chance to hear the former Israeli ambassador to the US and mid-90s chief negotiator with Syria Itamar Rabinovich, in conversation with David Aaronovitch. An unmissable insider’s analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process from the author of Middle Eastern Maze.

Leonard Bernstein: Some Other Time

Saturday March 3 8–9.15pm

Tickets £22.50

l A celebration of composer Leonard Bernstein 80 years after his classic New York musical On The Town hit Broadway and as he’s the subject of biopic Maestro. Writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson talks to Radio 3’s Petroc Trelawny, and West End stars Julian Ovenden and Christina Bianco sing live.

Hadley Freeman:
Good Girls

Wednesday March 6 7–8pm

Tickets £20

l Good Girls: A Story & Study of Anorexia is Hadley Freeman’s honest story of overcoming one of the least understood mental illnesses, from teenage years spent in psychiatric wards to the self-destructive behaviour that followed. She joins Tanya Gold in conversation.

Laugh Lines: Helen Lederer & Sara Gibbs

Wednesday March 6 7–8pm

Tickets £10

l Comedian and actress Helen Lederer and comedy writer Sara Gibbs discuss their careers and our need for funny books. Lederer’s memoir Not That I’m Bitter traces her journey from child of a Jewish-Czech wartime refugee to comedian, while Gibbs’ new debut novel Eight Bright Lights is a Chanukah-themed romcom.

Daniel Finkelstein:
A Memoir

Wednesday March 6 8.30 –9.30pm,

Tickets £20

l In conversation with biographer Caroline Moorehead, the columnist discusses his bestselling, deeply moving and harrowing family memoir Hitler, Stalin, Mum & Dad.

David Baddiel: The God Desire

Thursday March 7 7–8pm

Tickets £20

l After his record-breaking Jews Don’t Count event in 2021, David Baddiel returns with his latest bestseller The God Desire. The writer, broadcaster and comedian is in conversation with Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community of the UK.

Jake Wallis Simons

Sunday March 10 11am–12pm

Tickets £20

l In his new book JC editor Jake Wallis Simons argues that antisemitism has morphed into something both ancient and modern: Israelophobia. He discusses the newest version of the oldest hatred with journalist Harry Mount.

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