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World Book Club is a radio programme on the BBC World Service. Each edition of the programme, which is broadcast on the first Saturday of the month with repeats into the following Monday, features a famous author discussing one of his or her books, often the most well-known one, with the public. Since the programme began in 2002 it has been presented by Harriett Gilbert .


World Book Club features a famous writer who answers questions submitted by the public about one of his or her books. It is usually recorded in front of a live audience. Listeners around the world can submit questions before the recording.

The programme was launched at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002. The first book featured was Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor.

Until November 2008 it was a half-hour programme broadcast on the last Tuesday of each month in the slot of The Word, a defunct book programme now absorbed within the output of The Strand, the BBC World Service's daily arts and entertainment show. At the same time World Book Club became an hour long programme broadcast on the first Saturday in the month in slots otherwise occupied by the highlights compilation of The Strand. Some repeats are in an edited 30 minute version to fit The Strand's half hour slot. The first hour long programme featured Alice Walker.

As well as 'live' radio transmissions and repeats, current programmes can be listened to online as part of the BBC's usual 'listen again' streaming. Previous programmes are archived and can also be listened to online at any time.Some recent programmes are available to download as podcasts.

The producer of the programme, Karen Holden, runs its Facebook page.

Writers and books

Announced upcoming programmes are (with date of first broadcast):

This is a list of the writers who have taken part on World Book Club and whose programmes can be heard online (with the books that were the focus of discussion and date of first broadcast): (p = also available to download as podcast [580031])

Prize winners

Many winners of the major literary prizes have taken part in the programme, for instance:

  • Nobel Prize
Seven winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature have taken part: Gunter Grass (1999), Doris Lessing (2007), Toni Morrison (1993), V. S. Naipaul (2001), Orhan Pamuk (2006), Wole Soyinka (1986) and Derek Walcott (1992).
  • Booker Prize
Fourteen winners of the Booker Prize have taken part: Margaret Atwood (2000), A.S. Byatt (1990), Peter Carey (1988) & (2001), Kiran Desai (2006), Roddy Doyle (1993), Kazuo Ishiguro (1989), Thomas Keneally (1982), Ian McEwan (1998), Yann Martel (2002), V. S. Naipaul (1971), Ben Okri (1991), Michael Ondaatje (1992), Arundhati Roy (1997), and Salman Rushdie (1981).
  • Whitbread/Costa Book of the Year
Five Whitbread Book of the Year Award winners have taken part: William Boyd (1981), Kazuo Ishiguro (1989), Andrea Levy (2004), David Lodge (1980), and Philip Pullman (2006).
  • Pulitzer Prize
Four winners of the Pulitzer Prize have taken part: Toni Morrison (1988), E. Annie Proulx (1994), Jane Smiley (1992), and Alice Walker (1983).
  • Orange Prize
Six winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction have taken part: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2007), Kate Grenville (2001), Andrea Levy (2004), Lionel Shriver (2005), Zadie Smith (2006), and Rose Tremain (2008).

Asking questions or attending recordings

Apart from attending the recording in person, listeners can submit questions beforehand by email, telephone, or using the form on the World Book Club homepage.

Recordings usually take place in Londonmarker, but sometimes in other places. See the World Book Club homepage for details of time and location, booking a place, or to ask for further information.


Harriett Gilbert has said about the programme,
"For a book addict, I have the dream job...On World Book Club, I introduce those writers to their readers, all around the world and sit back while they enjoy themselves.
If only Charles Dickens were still alive!"

See also

The Strand - the BBC World Service's daily arts and entertainment programme

External links


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