The past twelve months have left us with a lot to digest and, for many, plenty of unexpected grief.

It’s this topic that forms the backbone of a conversation between two authors whose work delves deep into the unpredictable rollercoaster of sudden loss. Reverend Richard Coles’ The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss takes an unflinching look at the emotional chaos left behind in the wake of his partner’s death. Meanwhile, Arifa Akbar’s Consumed: A Sister’s Story presents a touching portrait of the journey of discovery triggered by the unexpected loss of her sibling.

Neither hold back when venturing into grief’s darkest corners, yet each emerges from the depths with a renewed sense of understanding and hope. Join Coles and Akbar as they unpack this personal, universal and pertinent issue in what’s sure to be a stand-out festival moment.

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About The Authors

Reverend Richard Coles

The Reverend Richard Coles is a Church of England priest in the quintessentially English village of Finedon, Northamptonshire. Richard is co-presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live and also a regular contributor to Pause for Thought on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show. He is a frequent guest panellist on shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You? and QI.  As an author, he has written five books including three memoirs; the best selling Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went From Pop to Pulpits (2014), Bringing in The Sheaves: Wheat and Chaff from My Years as a Priest (2016) and Sunday Times bestseller The Madness of Grief (2021) all published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Arifa Akbar

Arifa Akbar is the Guardian’s chief theatre critic. A journalist for over twenty years, she is the former literary editor of the Independent, where she also worked as arts correspondent and news reporter. She has previously contributed to the Observer and the Financial Times. She is on the board of trustees for the Orwell Foundation and English PEN. Short pieces of her non-fiction have appeared in several anthologies. Consumed is her first full length book.

About The Chair

Peg Alexander

Peg Alexander is a double award-nominated TV and radio presenter, event host, speaker and occasional writer. She came to broadcasting after over 20 years in campaigning, public policy, charities and regeneration, with a short spell in national politics.