Press Release | 16 April 2024


9 – 19 May 2024, at the Institut français in London

The Institut français in London is pleased to announce the 8th edition of Beyond Words Festival of literature featuring acclaimed authors and new voices, and the latest publications from both sides of the Channel and beyond.

The festival will open on 9 May (19.00) with a special tribute to the late Maryse Condé who passed away a few weeks ago. Gathering writers Jean D’Amérique (Haiti), Estelle-Sarah Bulle (Guadeloupe) and Jason Allen-Paisant (Jamaica), and Prof. Clare Finburgh Delijani (Goldsmiths University of London), this panel discussion will delve into Maryse Condé’s influence and the intricacies of mixed identities in the Caribbean.

Women’s rights will be addressed with several events including a full reading of May the Tigris Grieve for You (15 May, 19.00). This short novel by Emilienne Malfatto chronicles the foretold death of a young Iraqi woman who became pregnant out of wedlock. Director Vanessa Filho will attend the screening of her film, Consent (10 May, 19.00), based on the autobiographical book by Vanessa Springora, recounting her relationship with fifty-year-old writer Gabriel Matzneff who seduced her when she was thirteen.

The Beyond Words Festival will explore how individual lives and history are intertwined, sometimes dramatically. French author Anne Berest will discuss her multi-award-winning book The Postcard, an investigation into family secrets and the horror of the Holocaust (Fri 17 May, 18.00). Anne Berest will also attend the 2nd edition of the European Writers’ Festival at the British Library (19 May) and launch her book at the French Institute in Edinburgh (21 May).

Translator Sander Berg, Senior Lecturer at Birbeck Damian Catani, and publisher Alessandro Gallenzi will tackle War, Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s novel discovered unexpectedly in 2021, offering a vivid and controversial portrayal of soldiers’ experiences during WW1 (Fri 10 May, 18.00).

To mark the 50th anniversary of Marcel Pagnol’s death, Beyond Words Festival honours Marseille. The French Institute will explore the city through its writers and readings of illustrious texts, under the guidance of Rémi Duchêne, author of L’Embarcadère des lettres and L’Escale des Géants, Marseille et les écrivains, 1830-1900 (Marseille, Marcel & Co, 11 May, 15.30). Taste of Marseille (11 May 17.30) will take the audience further into the streets and delights of the Phocaean city with contemporary writers and Marseille lovers. Two beloved Pagnol trilogies will be presented before, during and after the festival (from 4 May to 9 June): The Marseille trilogy masterpieces – Marius (1931), Fanny (1932) and César (1936) shown in 4K restored prints – and The Hills of Provence trilogyMy Father’s Glory (1990), My Mother’s Castle (1990), and The Times of Secrets (2022).

Another Mediterranean city will be in the spotlight: in collaboration with English PEN, Beirut will be discussed with Lamia Ziadé, author of My Port of Beirut and Albert Londres prize-winning journalist Caroline Hayek. They will be joined by Malu Halasa, author of Transit Beirut: New Writing and Images and Prof. Lina Khatib (SOAS University) (Tue 14 May, 19.00).

The Beyond Words Festival has been supported by Florence and Vincent Gombault and by the Friends of the French Institute Trust.


Visit the festival’s website




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