This year’s Festival is bursting with talent, including some of the literary world's brightest and most respected names.

These unique voices produce a dazzling breadth of work that both reflects and illuminates the world we live in. This year's line up includes 'a brisk and satirical aphorist' with a Man Booker prize to her name, a short story writer whose first novel is as inventive as it is lauded, and a highly decorated essayist whose writing shaped a generation of feminists.

From this stellar line-up, we’ve compiled just a few must-sees.

Anne Enright

Lyrical, candid, funny and brilliant – Anne Enright may belong to the tradition of great Irish novelists exploring family life, but her voice is all her own. A former TV producer, when Anne entered the literary world with her collection of short stories in 1991 she shot to literary acclaim, and it hasn’t stopped since. With six novels, three collections of short stories, and a non-fiction book, her stories been published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Her honours include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Encore Aware, the Irish Novel of the Year, and the Man Booker in 2007 for her book The Gathering. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Anne is also the inaugural Laureate of Irish Fiction. This is a rare opportunity to hear from a brilliant, honest, enthralling, and unusual talent.

 

Latest book: The Green Road (2015)

What other people say:

'Elegant, scrupulously poised, always intelligent and, not least, original.' — Angela Carter

'Enright possesses an unusual combination of talents. She is a rich, lyrical prose writer, who cascades among novelties — again and again, she finds the unexpected adjective, the just noun. […] But she is at the same time a brisk and satirical aphorist' — The New Yorker

'Brilliant, devastating and radical' — Guardian

Get acquainted: Hear Anne talk about her Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Gathering on this BBC podcast

George Saunders

Don’t miss your chance to hear from the 'writer for our time'. The American master — whose work is commonly referred to as original, transcendent, essential and important — has been widely celebrated for his nine books, and published regularly in the likes of The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s and GQ. Cataloguing George’s awards would take up most of this page, so let’s just touch on a few: In 2013, he was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and made Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He also teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. His long awaited debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (2017), was an immediate bestseller and has been acclaimed as a 'masterpiece'.


CV:
George worked as field geophysicist, a doorman, a roofer, a convenience store clerk, and in a slaughterhouse, before becoming a writer.

Latest book: Lincoln in the Bardo (2017)

What other people say:

'A masterpiece' — Zadie Smith

'Weird and brilliant' — Mother Jones

'The most exciting writer in America' — David Foster Wallace

'He is the writer of our time.' — Joel Lovell, the Times

Get acquainted: Listen to a clip from the Lincoln in the Bardo audiobook, read by a star-filled cast of 166 narrators including Nick Offerman, Don Cheadle, and Julianne Moore.

Colson Whitehead

A blaze of wit, playfulness and seriousness, Colson Whitehead’s 18-year career has positioned him as a celebrated ironist and key figure in both American and world literature. It’s been a whirlwind year for Colson, with his novel The Underground Railroad winning both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and appearing on Barack Obama's summer reading list. His oeuvre, which includes six novels and two books of non-fiction, has a startling power, asking unflinching questions of universal importance.


Latest book: The Underground Railroad (2016)

What other people say:

'He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present.' — Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times

'…fully realized masterpiece, a weird blend of history and fantasy that will have critics rightfully making comparisons to Toni Morrison and Gabriel García-Márquez… Lovely and rare, dark and imaginative, The Underground Railroad is Whitehead’s best work and an important American novel.' — The Boston Globe

'The canon of essential novels about America's peculiar institution just grew by one.' — Ron Charles, Washington Post

Colson says: This was his reaction to winning the Pulitzer prize for fiction.

Paul Beatty

What is possible in writing, and what is permissible? It’s a question you often feel at the edges on Paul Beatty’s fierce, funny, poetic, and sometimes confronting writing. In 2016, Paul became the first American to be awarded the Man Booker Prize for his darkly comic, absurd, satirical, and yet very real book, The Sellout, which also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. It’s the latest in a body of work that explores themes of race relations, psychology and history, with an expansive idiom and energy all his own.

 

Latest book: The Sellout (2015)

What other people say:

'A masterful work that establishes Beatty as the funniest writer in America' — Elisabeth Donnelly, The Guardian

'Everything about The Sellout's plot is contradictory. The devices are real enough to be believable, yet surreal enough to raise your eyebrows.' — Reni Eddo-Lodge

'A novel for our times…The truth is rarely pretty and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon … that is why the novel works.' – Amanda Foreman, Man Booker prize chair

Paul says:

'I like people who just don’t care: who kind of go pedal to the metal. My mom always teased me that I liked films where nothing is going on. Sword-fight movies without any sword fighting. When nothing is going on, something is always going on. I like awkward silence.'

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is the author, essayist and all-round feminist force whose online writing has probably been forwarded to you at some point. And it’s no wonder. Whether she’s writing for Tumblr or the New York Times, her honest discussion of identity, privilege and acceptance provides the perfect antidote for our current age of political and social turmoil. Roxane shot to fame with her New York Times bestselling collection of essays Bad Feminist, and counts the 2015 PEN Center USA Freedom to Write award amongst her many accolades.


Latest book: Difficult Women (2017)

What other people say:

'In print, on Twitter and in person, Gay has the voice of the friend you call first for advice, calm and sane as well as funny, someone who has seen a lot and takes no prisoners.' — The Guardian

'Let this be the year of Roxane Gay.' — Time magazine

'…Her Bad Feminist essay … the most persuasive feminist recruitment drive in recent memory' — The Guardian

Roxane says: 'I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.'

Get acquainted: Follow Roxane on Twitter