With over 800 authors featuring in over 700 events across 17 days, the Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of the largest celebrations of literature in the world.
Every year, the festival showcases a diverse range of writers, featuring everything from scientists and sportsmen, to novelists and Nobel prize-winners – and tickets don’t last long.
If you feel like celebrating the written word this August, look no further. Rebecca Monks has gone through the line-up to bring you some great events from this year’s festival that have yet to sell out (at the time of writing).
James Robertson: History, fact, fiction
23 Aug, 12pm – 1pm, ScottishPower Studio Theatre, £10, £8; more info
When word spread that James Robertson was making an appearance, tickets didn’t last very long at all. Luckily, the leading Scottish author has added a second date to his diary, and will be appearing at this special event with Ruth Wishart. Robertson’s impressive catalogue of work includes his new novel The Professor of Truth, which is inspired by the Lockerbie bombing.
Alasdair Gray: Resolutely Independent
14 Aug, 3pm – 4pm, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, £10, £8; more info
Alasdair Gray is here to set the record straight. Last year, his controversial essay titled ‘Settlers and Colonists’ led to the writer being accused of anti-Englishness. This event will see Gray discuss his views on independence, whilst also dealing with the importance of non-fiction.
James Tait Black Prize: The Greatest Literary Prize of All
24 Aug, 6:30pm-7:30pm, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, £10, £8; more info
This event, led by broadcaster Sally Magnusson, will see the winner of the James Tait Black award walk away with a cheque for £20,000. Shortlisted authors will read their work before the winner is chosen. This is one of the oldest literary awards in Britain, with previous winners including Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan. The award will be judged by a group of postgraduate students at Edinburgh University.
Muriel Spark, 50 Years On: Celebration of a Literary Classic
13 Aug, 8pm-9pm, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, £10, £8; more info
This event celebrates the work of one of the most famous Scottish novelists of all time, as Alan Taylor, Zoe Strachan and Candia McWilliam revisit The Girls of Slender Means, a literary classic published by Muriel Spark a year after her most famous novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Muriel Romanes will be performing a reading at the event.
Carol Ann Duffy: An Hour With the Poet Laureate
10 Aug, 4.30pm – 5.30pm and 11 Aug, 8pm-9pm, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, £10, £8; more info
Glasgow-born Carol Ann Duffy is spending an hour at the book festival this year reading some of her favourite poems from The Bees, the first collection of poetry the writer has published since becoming Poet Laureate. She has enlisted the help of musician John Sampson to tell her lyrical tales, which feature everything from recollections of her mother to commentaries on life in Britain today.
Alan Bissett on Trainspotting
14 Aug, 1pm-2:30pm, Writers’ Retreat, £15, £12; more info
This open discussion of Irvine Welsh’s gritty tale of heroin culture in the early nineties will see Scottish author Alan Bissett take a closer look at the text that shone a spotlight on one of the most notorious issues of the time and became a cult classic, both in novel and cinematic form.
24 Aug, 10:30am-11:30am, ScottishPower Studio Theatre, £4.50; more info
Malorie Blackman has recently been named the new Children’s Laureate. She is famous for creating fictional works which explore ethical issues, the most prominent of which was the critically acclaimed Noughts & Crosses. Blackman is back at the book festival this year with Noble Conflict, a fantasy set years after war has destroyed a great deal of the world.
Neil Gaiman, Families & 8+
24 Aug, 3pm-4pm, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, £4.50; more info
Fortunately, the Milk is Neil Gaiman‘s family friendly offering to this year’s festival. Gaiman will be joined by Vicky Featherstone, artistic director at the Royal Court, as they discuss everything in this charmingly quirky tale, from goldfish to graveyards.