Picador are delighted to share that news that Jessie Burton’s best selling second novel, The Muse, has been chosen as the focus book for the Cityread London festival 2018. Cityread is a city-wide book group which each May aims to help Londoners explore and celebrate their city through its stories. With a programme of events exploring the The Muse’s themes of arrival, creativity, art and family secrets; running across 26 London boroughs, the 2018 Cityread festival will celebrate the book’s portrayal of 1960s London life and culture.

The Muse opens in London 1967, where we meet Odelle Bastien, recently arrived from Trinidad and trying to make her way in a new country.  A new job at the Skelton Institute of Art brings a mysterious painting, and even more enigmatic colleague, into her life.  We are then transported to Spain, 1936, and meet Olive Schloss, and we begin to discover how the painting came into being, against the turbulent backdrop of Spain on the eve of war.

The festival centrepiece will be an interactive audio digital installation at Idea Store Whitechapel, where audiences will be invited into Odelle’s flat and Olive’s studio to discover the secrets of the mysterious painting at the heart of the novel, Rufina and the Lion. The installation will include immersive audio provided by Audible, the sponsors of Cityread 2018.

Other events will include Cynth and Sam’s Wedding Party (a live music event at Westminster Reference Library featuring Jazzie B in conversation with Lloyd Bradley, author of Sounds Like London), life drawing classes and family history workshops, and author events with Jessie Burton.

Cityread London is a registered charity that promotes the key ideas of reading for pleasure, engaging new library users, enhancing the experience of existing readers, and encouraging people to explore and celebrate London’s culture, landscape and history through its stories. Cityread works in partnership with library services in 26 London boroughs plus Slough, Reading and Luton. Cityread 2018 will also work with homeless charities to gift 800 signed copies of The Muse to homeless readers across the capital.

Jessie Burton said:

“I'm truly delighted that The Muse will be London's Cityread for 2018. It's a novel that celebrates the diversity, humour and spirit of Londoners - both those who were born here and those welcomed in to make it their home. It's an honour to support our city's libraries and to be reminded of their incomparable value, and I can't wait for new readers to find my story of Odelle and Olive, and make it their own.”

Lord Tope, Chair of Cityread said:

“2018 is Year of the Woman and also the 70th anniversary of the arrival of The Windrush, making The Muse the perfect choice for Cityread London.  Working with our amazing library partners, and with Jessie, our events will inspire Londoners to find out more about women in art, discover the secrets in their own family trees, and celebrate the impact that Caribbean migration in the 1960s had on our capital, the food we eat and the music we listen to.”

Tracey Markham at Audible said:

“We passionately believe in the power of a great story, told by a great voice. So we are thrilled to be supporting Cityread for the third year in its mission to get people reading and listening to the best UK storytelling.  The Muse is a wonderful piece of writing and we are incredibly proud to help bring it to more eyes and ears across London and beyond.”