Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Rose Tremain’s Scared Country has been chosen as this year’s City Read across Brighton & Hove and beyond. The concept is simple: one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.
Sacred Country tells the story of Mary Ward who one day stands shivering in a Suffolk, England field in February 1952 and realises she is meant to be a boy. She is six years old. From its opening pages Sacred Country vows to take the reader on a compelling literary journey through Mary’s fight to become Martin. Spanning three decades, from the oppressive English countryside of the 1950s, to London in the Swinging Sixties, to 1970’s America, Sacred Country follows Mary in her plight to find a place of safety and fulfilment in a savage and confusing world.
Rose Tremain was one of only five women writers to be included in Granta’s original list of 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1983, and was made a CBE in 2007. Her award-winning novels and short stories have been published worldwide in 27 countries. Sacred Country won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Prix Femina Etranger. It has oft been compared to Virginia Woolf’s iconic novel Orlando through its reconsideration of the essence of gender. Apart from its undoubted literary merits, Sacred Country is a non-sensationalist reflection of the tribulations faced by trans individuals.
Fox Fisher, trans artist and activist said: ‘As a trans person myself, I never saw trans characters in books (or in ‘real life’, for that matter) growing up. Although Sacred Country is written by an author that isn’t trans, I was utterly gripped with the storyline and characters. The audiobook is read by a trans man which adds to the authenticity and is an example of the level of care and consideration when creating this book. As a film-maker, I could really visualise how well this would translate to a feature length fiction. And when the time comes, I hope the person to make the film is me!’
Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, City Reads commented: ‘Sacred Country tells the compelling story of Mary, born in the wrong body and their arduous journey to become Martin. Despite being written in 1992, Sacred Country is a novel that deserves to be re-discovered as it is still a hugely relevant work. Mary’s story is told with skill, compassion and empathy. Rose Tremain is one of the UK’s most respected writers and we are delighted to be welcoming her to Brighton & Hove in May to discuss this groundbreaking novel with readers across the City.’
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘We are delighted that City Reads is part of Brighton Festival again this year – building on our strong relationship with Collected Works through other partnership projects such as Young City Reads and Adopt an Author. To have a writer of the calibre of Rose Tremain as our selected author is particularly exciting and we look forward to people reading and enjoying the book together over the coming months.’
Victoria Murray-Browne, Senior Editor, Vintage said: ‘We’re thrilled that Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country has been picked for this year’s City Reads. Set in rural Suffolk in the 1950s, it tells the story of Mary who, aged six, has a sudden revelation: I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I’m a boy. It’s a story about the search for identity and finding fulfilment in an unforgiving world that resonates as strongly today as when it was first published 25 years ago’
From its launch on World Book Night (23 April) to the final event at Brighton Festival on 13 May, there are a wide range of activities on offer as part of City Reads, aimed at encouraging residents across the City (and beyond) to get reading and start talking. Highlights include: the return of the Booky Photo Booth at Jubilee Library (23 April – 5 May), the ever popular City Reads Book Quiz on Weds 25 April in Lewes and Brighton on Weds 2 May, crime writer William Shaw’s Impromptu Book Group podcast on Thurs 26 April, themed film screenings at Jubilee Library and Depot (Lewes) and of course Rose Tremain, live at Brighton Festival for the City Reads finale on Sunday 13 May 2018.
For more information visit cityreads.co.uk. To find out more about this year’s Young City Reads ‘big read’ (Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal), visit brightonfestival.org/news/title_revealed_for_young_city_reads_2018/