World Book Club

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,[1] 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.[2] Listeners around the world can submit questions before the recording.

The programme was launched at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002.[3] The first book featured was Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor.[4]

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 whose remit was absorbed within the output of The Strand, the BBC World Service's new daily arts and entertainment show. With the end of The Word and the beginning of The Strand, World Book Club became an hour-long programme broadcast on the first Saturday in the month in slots otherwise occupied by the weekly 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.[5] Some recent programmes are available to download as podcasts.[6]

The producer of the programme, Karen Holden, runs its Facebook page.[7]

Writers and booksEdit

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)

Prize winnersEdit

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

  • Nobel Prize

Ten winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature have taken part: Günter Grass (1999), Kazuo Ishiguro (2017), J.M.G. Le Clézio (2008), Doris Lessing (2007), Toni Morrison (1993), V. S. Naipaul (2001), Orhan Pamuk (2006), Wole Soyinka (1986), Mario Vargas Llosa (2010) and Derek Walcott (1992).

  • Booker Prize

Seventeen winners of the Booker Prize have taken part: Margaret Atwood (2000), Julian Barnes (2011), A.S. Byatt (1990), Peter Carey (1988) & (2001), Kiran Desai (2006), Roddy Doyle (1993), Kazuo Ishiguro (1989), Howard Jacobson (2010), Thomas Keneally (1982), Penelope Lively (1987), 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

Seven Whitbread (now called Costa) Book of the Year Award winners have taken part: Peter Ackroyd (1985), William Boyd (1981), Kazuo Ishiguro (1989), Andrea Levy (2004), David Lodge (1980), Philip Pullman (2006) and Colm Tóibín (2009).

  • Pulitzer Prize

Five winners of the Pulitzer Prize have taken part: Richard Ford (1996), Toni Morrison (1988), E. Annie Proulx (1994), Jane Smiley (1992), and Alice Walker (1983).

  • Orange Prize

Seven winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction have taken part: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2007), Kate Grenville (2001), Barbara Kingsolver (2010), Andrea Levy (2004), Lionel Shriver (2005), Zadie Smith (2006), and Rose Tremain (2008).

Asking questions or attending recordingsEdit

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

Recordings usually take place in London, but sometimes in other places.

See alsoEdit

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

External linksEdit