Edinburgh Book Festival unveils Brave New Words line-up

Edinburgh Book Festival unveils Brave New Words line-up

The Edinburgh International Book Festival today (13th June) launched its 2017 programme, boasting a line-up including Ian Rankin, Zadie Smith and Roxane Gay, under the theme "Brave New Worlds".

Politicians such as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Labour's Harriet Harman and the Conservative Baroness Sayeeda Warsi will also speak during the festival, which promises to both examine "big, global questions exploring truth and post truth, terrorism and fanaticism, gender, diversity and identity, death, globalisation" and to celebrate "the most joyful, intimate and personal stories of individuals". 

Other authors appearing at the renowned literature festival include Val McDermid, David Mitchell, Elif Shafak and Ali Smith, with Maggie O’Farrell, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Cressida Cowell, Chirs Hoy, Eimear McBride and Meik Wiking, also making an appearance.

The event will run from 12th - 28th August 2017 and host conversations, performances, lectures, workshops and discussions showcasing writers from over 50 countries.

Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “Seventy years on from the first Edinburgh Festival, the need for artists and performers to come together in celebration of free speech and the power of creativity is as great as it has ever been. Against a backdrop of political earthquakes, this year’s Book Festival proudly presents an awe-inspiring international array of writers who are closely observing the changing world and – to paraphrase the poet Emily Dickinson – telling it slant.”

US author Paul Auster will discuss the parallel lives of the principal character in his latest novel 4 3 2 1 (Faber & Faber) while fellow American Richard Ford will explore the reality of 'the American Dream' in 2017 in conversation with Kirsty Wark. Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will debate the role of women in the world with Sturgeon; Andrew O’Hagan is delivering a keynote lecture on the future of Scotland; Zadie Smith will offer "an insightful look at the growing pains of young women"; comedian Reginald D Hunter is joining novelist Tanya Landman to discuss the shadow slavery has cast over the US and Meik Wiking, Danish author of the Little Book of Hygge (Pengion Life) and c.e.o. of Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute will be launching his new book over an afternoon tea.

In honour of the 70th anniversary of the festival, it is this year expanding onto George Street and staging showcase events in the Kings Theatre and St Mary’s Cathedral in the West End. Two new venues at the west end of George Street, the Bosco Theatre and The Greenhouse, will offer new opportunities for creative programming looking at the relationship the festival has with the city. Events include "LitLong Reading the City", writing workshops, and live writing from the festival's poets in residence as well as drop-in activities for all ages. It is intended to be an extension of Charlotte Square Gardens, which will include a box office, pop-up book shop and patio seating area, with the aim of opening up the festival to new audiences.

In a special event, Auster will discuss his life and work at the Kings Theatre in partnership with Edinburgh International Festival and British Council as part of the "Spirit of ‘47" programme. In St Mary’s Cathedral, David Mitchell will be joined by conductor and pianist David Greilsammer to present a collaboration featuring piano music interspersed with readings of Mitchell’s unpublished micro-stories. Mitchell’s selected events exploring the interplay between music and words will also feature percussionist Evelyn Glennie, composer Sally Beamish, novelist Hari Kunzru and folk duo The Unthanks.  

Scottish science fiction writer, Ken MacLeod, is welcoming fellow sci-fi, horror and fantasy writers to the stage, including Nalo Hopkinson, Ada Palmer and Jo Walton, to explore "how imagining a different world can make sense of the one we live in".  

Turkish writer Shafak is exploring the connection between fiction and the political world in a series of conversations with American writer Siri Hustvedt, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Richard Holloway and Heather McDaid.  

Writer Gay has meanwhile collaborated with Scottish Makar Jackie Kay to programme a series of discussions featuring writers including Reni Eddo-Lodge, Argentinian novelist Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Icelandic writer Thordis Elva and Margo Jefferson, which will all be chaired by Kay.

US author Laura Albert will be chatting with writer and psychotherapist Susie Orbach to uncover the motivations that led her to invent the persona of J T Leroy. Others coming to Edinburgh to tell their own "deeply personal" stories include foreign correspondent John Simpson, Anna Pasternak, Jeremy Paxman, actors Stephen McGann and Charlotte Rampling, Sayeeda Warsi, the UK’s first Muslim member of the Cabinet, and punk artist Cosey Fanni Tutti who will be in conversation with Edinburgh's Rankin.

There will be a series of events entitled "This Woman Can" to celebrate the success of women in numerous fields. Yazidi teenager Farida Khalaf will be telling her story of being kidnapped and sold into slavery by ISIS in 2014; Juliana Buhring, Dervla Murphy and Jennifer Tough will reflect on "life-changing" long distance cycle rides; politicians Harriet Harman, Jess Phillips and Catherine Mayer will talk about their work improving the lives of their constituents; and Judy Murray will reflect on the highs and lows not only of raising two top tennis players but also championing girls who have ambitions in the sport.

A number of books will be launched at the festival, including those of Nicole Krauss, Peter Høeg, Caroline Brothers, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Jenny Erpenbeck, Marcel Theroux and André Naffis-Sahely. Other authors in attendance will be Colson Whitehead and Dana Spiotta, both making their first visit to the festival from the US, Irish authors Colm Tóibín, John Boyne, Eimear McBride and Sebastian Barry and Olga Tokarczuk from Poland and Aleš Šteger from Slovenia. Home grown talent will include Maggie O’Farrell and Val McDermid, Ali Smith, who returns with the second in her seasonal series, and novelist and poet John Burnside to introduce two new works.

A series of events celebrating international writing in translation through the Man Booker International Prize - the winner of which will be announced tomorrow - will include 2017 shortlisted authors Dorthe Nors and Samanta Schweblin. Judges Daniel Hahn and Helen Mort will be joined by festival director and chairman of the 2017 judging panel, Nick Barley to discuss the winning novel and it is hoped that the winning author will also be available to join.

In Children's, Cressida Cowell will address the importance of crafting stories to entertain and inspire children in The Siobhan Dowd Trust Memorial Lecture and unveil her new series, The Wizards of Once; Kristina Stephenson, the 2017 illustrator in residence, is celebrating her character Sir Charlie Stinky Socks' 10th birthday; Anthony Horowitz is introducing the latest instalment of his Alex Rider adventures; Olympian Chris Hoy will recount the adventures of Flying Fergus; Alex Wheatle will explore the struggle of pursuing one’s dreams while living on a council estate and Julia Donaldson is launching her new book The Ugly Five. Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Sarah Crossan will also be exploring stories of race, sexual awakening and identity. Other new children's authors attending include Adrian Edmondson, broadcaster Clare Balding and Julian Clary.

The full line up for the festival, which receives funding from Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, can be viewed at www.edbookfest.co.uk.