PenguinPresents at the London Palladium

People - Books Friday, 07 June 2019

Audience of 1,500 for authors including Stormzy and Bill Bryson

Penguin Random House (PRH) invited 1,500 people, including for the first time guests from outside the company, to its #PenguinPresents showcase, held this year at the London Palladium.

During a slickly choreographed, two-part show of nearly four hours, the publisher's stars on stage included Stormzy (Rise Up), Cerys Matthews (Where the Wild Cooks Go, September), Jojo Moyes (The Giver of Stars, October) in conversation with Dolly Alderton (Everything I Know About Love), Bill Bryson (The Body: A Guide for Occupants, October), Kerry Hudson (Lowborn), Malorie Blackman with Paterson Joseph (the showing of a brief clip from the forthcoming TV version of Noughts and Crosses, in which Joseph appears as the heroine's father Kamal Hadley, drew excited gasps from the audience), Jeanette Winterson (Frankisstein), and Ai Weiwei (untitled, 2020). BookBrunch was particularly taken with Emilie Pine's eloquent and affecting reading from Notes to Self, first published by Tramp Press, taken up by Hamish Hamilton, and named An Post Irish Book of the Year 2018.

PRH CEO Tom Weldon was on eloquent form too, paying tribute to three colleagues whose untimely deaths have hit members of the company hard this year: Penguin art director John Hamilton; Susan Gillings, who worked at the Frating distribution centre; and Transworld senior publicity manager Sophie Christopher, whose sudden death at the age of only 28 had been announced earlier this week. The career of Hamilton, a maverick who had been Weldon's colleague and friend for 30 years, was a reminder that "if we are going to succeed, we need to allow space for people who aren't necessarily just like us". Weldon's message to the audience was: "We make books for everyone. Because a book can change anyone."

Photos (by Mike Marsland/Wire Image): (top) Malorie Blackman and Stormzy with Hafsa Zayyan (left) and Monika Radojevic, announced yesterday as the first winners of the #Merky Books New Writers' Prize; (left) Ai Weiwei; (below) Dolly Alderton (left) and Jojo Moyes

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