This year’s Edinburgh Book Festival takes place from 13th to 29th August and will be a hybrid festival of live and online events, with over 550 writers taking part from home and abroad.
The centre of it all will be the Book Festival’s new-(ish) home at Edinburgh College of Art near the University of Edinburgh’s Lauriston Campus. The event made the move last year from New Town to Old following many happy festivals at Charlotte Square Gardens.
For books lovers, the EIBF is a highlight of the year, and 2022 looks like it will be no different. You can find all the details of who, what, when, and where at edbookfest.co.uk, but with so many great events to choose from, here is SNACK’s guide to ten things to see at this year’s edition.
NOTHING BUT THE POEM WITH SAMUEL TONGUE: THE POETRY OF ANDRÉS N ORDORICA
Castle View Studio – 3pm, 13th August
Andrés N Ordorica’s debut collection, At Least This I Know, announced a vibrant and vital new voice to Scottish literature. Ordorica’s poems are inquiries into and observations on those things which are central to his life and identity, and his search for community. Sensual, sensitive, witty, and warm, this is writing which makes you understand the world, and yourself, a little better.
Andrés will be in conversation with fellow poet Samuel Tongue to examine the themes and ideas that he explores in his poetry.
DAVID KEENAN: NOTHING IS REAL IN AIRDRIE
Wee Red Bar – 8.30pm, 13th August
David Keenan’s new novel, Industry of Magic & Light, is set in the same illusory Airdrie as his cult classic This Is Memorial Device, to which it is the prequel.
Teddy Ohm is part of a group who run their own psychedelic lightshow, creating ‘events’ which gain local legendary status, with some believing them to have supernatural consequences.
Described as ‘part oral history – part occult detective novel’, Keenan once again proves that there is no one quite like him writing today, and few can talk about their own work as engagingly as he does.
SARAH SMITH: HEAR NO EVIL
Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court – 1pm, 14th August
One of three major performances this year looking at today’s Scotland through the lens of its past, present and future, Hear No Evil is based on the acclaimed debut novel of the same name, by Sarah Smith. The production uses sign language, image, and performance to tell the story of Jean Campbell, a deaf woman from Glasgow, who in 1817 was accused of murder when her child fell from her shoulders and drowned in the River Clyde.
The story is based on a landmark case in Scottish legal history, and this promises to be a very special adaptation.
OLGA WOJTAS: MURDER MARTIAL ARTS AND MACBETH
Wee Red Bar – 3.30pm, 16th August
‘Never underestimate a librarian!’ In Olga Wojtas’ Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Weird Sisters, the latest in her time-travelling crime series, Shona McMonagle is this time sent to medieval Scotland to meet the Macbeths and friends, the titular Weird Sisters, and Frank the cat. It’s another literary and laugh-out-loud-funny novel from Olga Wojtas who has, in only three books, created a series which has garnered committed fans who are always desperate for Miss Blaine’s Prefect’s next adventure.
Olga will be in conversation with Jenny Brown.
JENNI FAGAN: GEILLIS DUNCAN HAS A BROOMSTICK
Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court – 4pm, 18th August
Jenni Fagan’s novella Hex (part of Polygon’s ‘Darkland Tales’ series) is based on the true story of Geillis Duncan, who was one of the first women accused in the North Berwick witch trials. Fagan gives the story an extra supernatural twist, which makes it an interesting companion piece to her novel Luckenbooth: both novels share a sense of the uncanny and play with space, place, and time. Hex is an exceptional example of how to tell a story and it will be fascinating to hear Jenni Fagan discuss it.
This event will be chaired by Sally Magnusson.
GRAEME MACRAE BURNET: IN GMB WE TRUST
Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court – 1pm, 19th August
Graeme Macrae Burnet’s latest novel, Case Study, examines ideas about truth, reality, identity, and so much more.
Based around a series of notebooks which were sent, unsolicited, to a certain ‘GMB’ to aid in his research on the ‘[…] forgotten 1960s psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite’, it’s a literary and psychological mystery that examines the relationship between patient and therapist. It also confirms what regular readers already know – that Graeme Macrae Burnet is a very special writer who delights and challenges readers as few others can.
Graeme will be in conversation with Jenny Niven.
CHITRA RAMASWAMY: HOMELANDS
Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court – 1pm, 21st August
One of three major performances this year looking at today’s Scotland, Chitra Ramaswamy’s Homelands is a memoir which tells the story of the writer’s friendship with Henry Wuga, a man who arrived on these shores in 1939 fleeing Nazi Germany.
Using ‘a mixture of images, sound and performance, this event interweaves their life stories to look at Scotland’s past and present through the lenses of immigration, community, family and the desire to belong’. This is another event that proves the EIBF is more than ‘just’ a book festival.
SCOTTISH SPOKEN WORD SHOWCASE
Central Hall – 8.30pm, 23rd August
Spoken word is an area of the writing world which has grown hugely over the last decade or so (lockdowns aside!) to become one of the most exciting art forms of the 21st century, and this event is a great example of the very best of what’s happening in Scotland right now.
Hosted by poet and creative director of I Am Loud Poets Productions, Kevin Mclean, it brings together a diverse group of artists including Bee Asha, BEMZ, Dave Hook, Gray Crosbie, Jo Gilbert, Mae Diansangu, Kevin P Gilday and Victoria McNulty. In terms of hearing different voices in one event, this will be hard to beat.
MICHAEL PEDERSEN: BOY FRIENDS FOREVER
Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court – 7pm, 24th August
Michael Pedersen’s Boy Friends is among the most eagerly anticipated publications of the year and, as a result, this event promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival. It also promises to be deeply emotional. Pedersen was moved to write Boy Friends after he lost his close friend Scott Hutchison, but what started as a love letter to one person became a hymn to all the male friendships that have influenced his life.
In an evening of readings, performance, and conversation, Michael Pedersen will be joined by Shirley Manson and Charlotte Church to examine not only friendship, but also grief, love, and more.
HARRY JOSEPHINE GILES: DEEP WHEEL ORCADIA
Baillie Gifford Sculpture Court – 1pm, 28th August
One of three major performances looking at today’s Scotland, Deep Wheel Orcadia is a performance based on Harry Josephine Giles’ verse novel of the same name. Described as a ‘fusion of music, image and performance’, it tells the stories of Astrid, Darling, and the other characters who are existing on the titular space station, fighting for survival and meaning.
Written in Orkney dialect, Deep Wheel Orcadia will include English-language subtitles and animation, and is accompanied by music from BAFTA-winning composer Atzi Muramatsu, which was commissioned specially for this event. This multimedia event could be as close to pure theatre as you will find at this year’s festival, and promises to be a magical and memorable occasion.