Of course, this year nothing is quite as it was, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival is no exception. Unable to put on their usual physical events in their tented village in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square, they’re encouraging authors and all of us to ‘Keep the Conversation Going’. They’ve curated a special online edition of the Festival that you can enjoy at home, wherever you are in the world – best of all, all events are free!
One of the great things about the Edinburgh Book Festival in normal years has been the gentle hubbub (compared with the incessant throng of the city outside) and the relaxed atmosphere of the courtyard, which encouraged Festival-goers to mill about between events. They’re recreating this, in a way, creating a digital space so you’ll be able to chat with fellow Festival-goers via digital chatrooms and take part in Q&A sessions. You’ll even be able to meet the author and get your books signed, at selected events.
As always, they’ll have some of the literary world’s biggest names. Double Booker Prize Winner Hilary Mantel will discuss her concluding novel in her trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, The Mirror and the Light; Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things joins the festival from India to discuss Azadi, her new collection of essays, which explores the implications of the global pandemic and challenges us to reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world of growing authoritarianism; David Mitchell will explore the musical inspiration behind his fictional Prog Rock band biography Utopia Avenue with folk musician Sam Amidon – Sam will also treat the audience to some of his most recent music.
The Made in Scotland strand, celebrating the brilliant work of our own authors, writers and trailblazers is sure to be popular, with some of the country’s finest taking part. Ian Rankin will discuss his upcoming Rebus novel A Song for the Dark Times with Ruth Wishart – there’ll be a good dose of chat about recent ‘lost thriller’ Westwind too. Scottish author of the moment Kirstin Innes will talk to Heather Parry about her latest novel Scabby Queen, getting to the heart of the question: who is
In the Hear Her Roar: Fighting for Feminism strand, you can hear from some of the most influential voices fighting on the front-line for feminism across the world. Bernardine Evaristo’s character- rich Girl, Woman, Other recently became the first novel by a Black British woman to top the UK paperback fiction chart. In this live event with Q&A, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will chat to the author about her work and ideas. MsAfropolitan founder Minna Salami, a powerhouse of feminist thinking and organisation whose first book of essays Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone positions Black feminism as the prism through which we can all better understand the world. In this live Q&A, Salami, Jade Bentil and Lola Olufemi discuss the big ideas around empowerment, inclusion and activism and how (in Salami’s words) ‘we see ourselves, our history, and our world’.
Other themes in this year’s programme include: Africa: A Balance of Stories, America: Truth, Lies, Power and Division, Drawing Stories (This year’s Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme), Making Climate Change Personal, and Young, Fierce and Proud.
All events are free to watch on the festival website, and a selection of the events will be BSL interpreted, with some also being captioned. Take some time to dig into the programme, ‘save your place’ for the events that catch your eye and you’ll get an email reminder just before the event.
The 2020 Edinburgh International Book Festival will take place from 15th till 31st August.