Look out literature lovers, the Birlinn team are coming your way!
The first week of the festival is about to kick off and several of our fantastic authors will be present this year. From children’s writers to literary fiction, from Scottish land ownership to the love of gin, we guarantee something for everyone!
Things get underway on Saturday the 15th of August with Tom Pow, author of the beautiful Sixteen String Jack, as he joins Robert Douglas-Fairhurst in conversation. They will be discussing two of the most revolutionary children’s tales in existence, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. Starting at 11am, in this event both authors will be reflecting on how these works have shaped their own writing, and the work of a generation.
At 5.30pm the same day the co-authors of Edinburgh: Mapping the City, Christopher Fleet and Daniel McCannell will be discussing how the contours and marks of the city maps provide the building blocks for piecing together alternative versions history. A fascinating discussion that will appeal to lovers of architectural history, this event is also for anyone intrigued by stories yet to be told. The event is chaired by Sheena McDonald.
At 2pm on the 17th of August Joan Lennon, a member of Birlinn’s new cadre of children’s authors takes to the stage with her page turning sci-fi thriller Silver Skin. Join Joan alongside Katherine Rundell, author of The Wolf Wilder, as they discuss the art of weaving fantasy and history together to create wonderful adventures.
At 5.30pm Andy Wightman, author of The Poor Had No Lawyers, discusses the potential impact of the recent Smith Commission’s work on land reform. Devolving the Crown’s property interests to Scotland could have a profound impact on land ownership in the country, so join Wightman, chaired by Ruth Wishart, as they examine the possible consequences. This event is part of the EIBF’s Changing Britain event series.
Also on the 17th of August at 7pm Jan-Philip Sendker is joined by Sarah Winman for a joint event, discussing the fleeting acquainances that can lead people in life-changing decisions. Authors of Whispering Shadows and A Year of Marvellous Ways respectively, come down for an enthralling contemplation of the different paths of life.
On the 18th, Debi Gliori, best selling author of The Tobermory Cat and the current EIBF illustrator in residence, joins a panel at the Garden Theatre devoted to discussing the tragic rise of suicide and depression in the UK. UK self-harm statistics are the highest in Europe, and a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem. Debi will be alongside author Matt Haig, whose book Reasons to Stay Alive is a visceral account of his breakdown, and psychologist Rory O’Connor from Glasgow University (www.suicideresearch.info) to discuss the issues and how we can better support those who need it.
Alexander McCall Smith kicks off his series of events at the festival on the 18th at 6.45pm, discussing his love affair with the city of Edinburgh. Whether it’s Isabel Dalhousie and her Sunday Philosophy Club or the charming cast of 44 Scotland Street, many of Alexander McCall Smith’s characters are people of Edinburgh. ‘I love this city,’ he says; ‘I write about it, I dream about it.’ In A Work of Beauty, McCall Smith has created a beautifully illustrated portrait of the capital. At this event he takes an entertaining journey from his beloved city to his favourite characters from Botswana, Ireland and beyond.
And not missing a beat, McCall Smith returns the next day at 2pm, this time to discuss a very different topic alongside Edward Mendelson, Professor of English at Columbia University. Together the pair will be discussing the acclaimed poetry of W.H. Auden, and the enduring appeal of his works.
On the 20th of August one of Scotland’s greatest contemporary poets, Ron Butlin will be showcasing his brand new collection The Magicians of Scotland. A follow on from the immensely successful Magicians of Edinburgh, this is an exquisite new volume that paints a portrait of a country. Together with fellow poet Valerie Gillies – author of The Cream of the Well, Ron will be examining what it means to see Scotland through verse. This event will be chaired by Brian Taylor.
The second Birlinn author to be part of the Changing Britain events series is Tam Dayell, the former Labour MP who famously posed the West Lothian question in 1977 over the role of non-English MPs at Westminster. Also taking place on the 20th, this event will feature Tam in conversation with journalist James Naughtie discussing how Devolution will affect the make-up of the United Kingdom.
More events will be on the blog soon, so watch this space! In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some of these fantastic events!