25 headline events to see at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
harukai murakami

The programme for the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival was revealed, with an ambitious series of talks and book launches to reflect a big year for Scotland. Andy Revill takes a look at 25 of the highlights we have got to look forward to in August.

1. Tony Parsons – The Lure Of The Underworld

tony parsons
Tony Parsons makes his crime fiction debut – Getty

Veteran music journalist turned best-selling author Tony Parsons will take the stage to talk about his first foray into crime fiction. In his new book, The Murder Bag, detective Max Wolfe goes after a serial killer who prays upon the rich and powerful and is gaining an avid online following.

Sat 9 Aug, 7pm at the ScottishPower Foundation Studio. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

2. Alain de Botton – Have I Got News For You

Alain de Botton’s new book The News: A User’s Manual looks at the effect that 24-hour rolling news has on us. The popular  intellectual will provide insight and analysis over a series of archetypal news stories and how they are covered – disaster coverage, a political scandal and a celebrity interview. This event promises controversy and a unique look at how news is told in modern times.

Sun 10 Aug, 3pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

3. Kirsty Wark – The Changing Clyde

Journalist and presenter Kirsty Wark has turned her hand to fiction writing, and her debut novel The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle charts the life and times of two women in the west of Scotland as they live through a century of change. Wark will discuss her first book at this Open University event.

Sun 10 Aug, 8pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

4. David Belton and Brian Turner – Wars That Live on in the Mind

This Amnesty International event showcases two writers that have both experienced the harsh realities of war. David Belton’s When the hills ask for your blood is a memoir about his time in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994. Brian Turner fought in Iraq and his writing inspired the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, and he will be discussing his own memoir My Life as a Foreign Country.

Mon 11 Aug, 4pm at the Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

5. George R. R. Martin – Creating Brave New Worlds

george r.r. martin

Gaining international fame through the TV adaptation of his Game of Thrones series, George R. R. Martin will be at the Festival discussing his work with literary critic Stuart Kelly.

Mon 11 Aug, 8pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

6. Lindsey Fraser on Charlotte’s Web

The heart-warming story of friendship between a spider called Charlotte and a pig called Wilbur is cited as the best-selling children’s book ever. This event will be an open discussion about the novel, so read it before you go or be prepared to want to when you leave.

Tue 12 Aug, 11am at the Writer’s Retreat. Tickets £15, £12 concession.

7. Enemies of the State

This Amnesty International event looks into the issue of privacy in the modern world. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have spoken out about governments and their covert methods of data mining, and the risks that this poses to activists’ and indeed everyone’s freedom of expression. This event will feature festival authors’ readings around the issue.

Tue 12 Aug, 5.30pm at the Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre. Free, tickets available from the Box Office on the day.

8. Kamila Shamsie and Louisa Young – Love in Times of War

Kamila Shamsie, writer of Burnt Shadows and A God in Every Stone, and Louisa Young, writer of My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, and The Heroes’ Welcome, come together to discuss their work and the common thread of finding love in times of war.

Wed 13 Aug, 2.30pm at the Royal Bank Of Scotland Garden Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

9. Jura Unbound – Literary High Jinks

Words, music, magic and comedy in this offbeat literary experience. It will be free to enter so just drop in. Line-up to be announced in July.

Wed 13 Aug, 9pm at the Guardian Spiegeltent. Free entry.

10. Irma Kurtz – The Problem Solver’s Problems

Agony Aunt for Cosmo for around 40 years, Irma Kurtz takes a look back at all the advice she has given over the years. Her book, My Life in Agony, looks at the social changes that helped her to help readers, and her own struggles as a single mother.

Thu 14 Aug, 10am at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession. 

11. Iain Martin – RBS and the Credit Crisis

Iain Martin, former editor of The Scotsman, takes a look at the spectacular rise and fall of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the actions of Fred “the Shred” Goodwin who made RBS into a global giant, before its spectacular fall, in his book Making it Happen.

Thu 14 Aug, 4.30pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

12. Cornelius Medvei and Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir – Finding Your Own Path

Medvei’s Making of Mr Bolsover and Ólafsdóttir’s Butterflies in November both explore the theme of taking your own route through life. These outlandish novels celebrate the highs and lows of doing things differently.

Fri 15 Aug, 8.30pm at the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre. Tickets £7, £5 concession.

13. Ten at Ten – Babble On Special

These ten-minute readings are a feature of the Festival. Join poet Jenny Lindsay for this special spoken word launch to the Babble On events of the day.

Sat 16 Aug, 10am at the Writer’s Retreat. Free to all, book in advance.

14. Protest – The Rhetoric of Resistance

phill jupitus

Part of the Babble On event. Join Phill Jupitus (above), Elvis McGonagall, Hollie McNish and Hannah Silva as they confront social injustice, politics and domestic issues in this spoken word feature.

Sat 16 Aug, 12pm at the ScottishPower Foundation Studio. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

15. Melissa Benn – It’s Different For Girls

In her book What Should We Tell Our Daughters, Melissa Benn tackles the issues facing modern women. Unattainable body images, airbrushed models, lingering sexism within the media, unequal pay and representation are all brought together in a discussion with Chloe Combi.

Sun 17 Aug, 11am at the Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

16. Nicholas Parsons – No Repitition, Hestitation or Deviation

Just a Minute has been a national institution on BBC radio for 46 years, and Nicholas Parsons has hosted every one of its episodes. He has now written a book about hosting the perennial favourite and will discuss some of his most memorable moments.

Mon 18 Aug, 1.30pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

17. Breaking Down Barriers to Books and Reading

Mairi Kidd and Lucy Juckes discuss and explore some of the real issues that can act as barriers to children and young people with dyslexia enjoying literature, and the changes that can help them.

Tue 19 Aug, 5pm at the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre. Tickets £7, £5 concession.

18. Kate Adie – The Women of the First World War

Respected war reporter Kate Adie describes the experiences of the women that took up the tasks left by the men in 1914. In her book Fighting on the Home Front she explains how the efforts of those women began the sea change to a more equal society.

Wed 20 Aug, 4.30pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

19. Lynn Barber – Iron Fist, Velvet Microphone

Following a scathing article about tennis player Rafael Nadal, Lynn Barber faced a storm of cyber abuse. Having interviewed the likes of Salvador Dali and Gore Vidal, she was tough enough to cope. Come and hear her discuss her memoir A Curious Career, and the interviews that went awry.

20. Omid Djalili – A Peculiarly British Upbringing

Actor and Comedian Omid Djalili has written a memoir about his time as a young Iranian in London. His story offers a unique insight into British society.

Fri 22 Aug, 3.30pm at the ScottishPower Foundation Studio. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

21. Andrew Biswell on A Clockwork Orange

A reading workshop focused on Anthony Burgess’s modern classic, A Clockwork Orange. This will be an open discussion about the themes of the book, which is set in a dystopian society rife with youth violence.

Sat 23 Aug, 1pm at the Writers’ Retreat. Tickets £15, £12 concession.

22. Haruki Murakami

harukai murakami

Acclaimed author Haruki Murakami will be at the festival for the first time for two separate events. In the first, he’ll discuss his 1997 smash-hit novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which incorporated a mix of urban Tokyo and dream imagery and is widely believed to be one of the his best. The following night’s event doubles as the worldwide English-language launch of his new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which sold more than a million copies in the week after its release in Japan.

Sat 23 Aug, 3pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.
Sun 24 Aug, 6.30pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

23. Jeremy Paxman – War. Germany. Act.

As a follow on to his successful Great Britain’s Great War, Jeremy Paxman looks at what life was like for politicians, nurses, children and generals. This Open University event sees the retiring Newsnight slugger describe a picture of a nation that changed greatly over the course of four years.

Sun 24 Aug, 11.30am at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

24. Michael Rosen – Alphabet Male

Writer and poet Michael Rosen takes a look at the world of letters. Each of the 26 in the English language has its own story to tell, and Rosen shares the stories of his research for his new book Alphabetical.

Mon 25 Aug, 3pm at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

25. Dialogue 15 – Economy

In keeping with the theme of dialogue at this year’s Festival, the last in the series of dialogues will look to unravel what will happen to Scotland’s economy in September. Voters need clarity, and this is all too often lacking in mainstream reporting, as economic pundits revert to financial jargon. Jo Armstrong and Ronald Macdonald lead the discussion.

Mon 25 Aug, 7pm at The Guardian Spiegeltent. Tickets £10, £8 concession.

For more information, visit www.edbookfest.co.uk. Tickets go on sale at 8.30am on Tuesday, June 24.

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