I don’t know about you but I’ve been so excited for the release of the 2021 Edinburgh Book Festival programme. The online festival was a massive bright spot in a terrible 2020 and, with this year not exactly being great either, it’s braw to have something so good to look forward to again.
There’s so much going on across all genres with so many authors involved from all over the world. But this is the Scot Lit Blog so for the sake of staying “on brand” we wanted to share the Scottish writing events that we’re looking forward to the most.
Pretty sure you’ll already be all over it by now but check out the whole programme here if not.
Douglas Stuart with Nicola Sturgeon: Welcome Home, Shuggie Bain (30 August, 8.30pm)
“Douglas Stuart discusses his bestselling novel Shuggie Bain with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – and might just drop a few hints about what he’s working on.”
Scottish Publisher Showcase (17 August, 11am)
“With 100-plus publishers in our small country, we celebrate and amplify the voices of the established and debut publishers who, despite the odds, continue to find and bring fresh voices to readers. This showcase event is chaired by Scottish broadcaster and author Sally Magnusson and you’ll also see some familiar literary faces making an appearance. Featuring every kind of writing we spotlight the latest brave and bold literature emerging from Scotland’s publishing scene.”
Reading Scotland: Helen McClory, the New Edinburgh Gothic (19th August, 5.30pm)
“As part of our Reading Scotland series, Helen McClory has worked with filmmaker Bryan M Ferguson to create a 5-minute film which is screened for the first time as part of today’s event. The film aims to evoke the mood of McClory’s novel and should act as a fascinating introduction to Bitterhall for those who have not yet read it. Following the screening, McClory discusses her book.”
Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Ambrose Parry and Mary Paulson-Ellis: Summer Crime Wave (19th August, 8.30pm)
“A few months ago there was a minor storm in the Twitterverse when a group of Scottish authors realised their books would all be published on more or less the same day in August. What do The Great Silence, 1979, Emily Noble’s Disgrace and A Corruption of Blood have in common? They’re all set in Scotland for a start, and they are all examples of a Scottish crime-writing scene that’s more vibrant than ever. From 1850s Enlightenment Edinburgh through to the smoky newsrooms of 1970s Glasgow and then back again to the capital city in the present day, this is a rich new seam of stories mined by five international masters of their craft.”
Reading Scotland: Graeme Armstrong, Welcome tae Airdrie (23rd August, 5.30pm)
“As part of our Reading Scotland series, Armstrong has worked with filmmaker James Price to create a short film which is screened for the first time as part of today’s event. The film aims to capture the atmosphere of The Young Team and reveals the environs and people of Airdrie. Following the screening, Armstrong discusses his book.”
Graeme Armstrong, Jenni Fagan and Caleb Femi: Take Your Place (14 August, 1pm)
“Jenni Fagan (Luckenbooth), Caleb Femi (Poor) and Graeme Armstrong (The Young Team), all of whom have placed locality at the centre of their writing in their most recent books, discuss what home, environment and community will mean in a post-pandemic world. This event is part of Citizen, our long-term creative programme working in partnership with organisations across Edinburgh and Musselburgh, offering local people a platform to explore identity, connection and place.”
Reading Scotland: James Robertson, Ghosts of the Glen (16 August, 5.30pm)
“We are thrilled to present the new novel by one of Scotland’s most gifted authors, James Robertson. Ever since the acclaimed And the Land Lay Still, readers have been waiting for another novel by Robertson that would articulate the changing spirit and soul of Scotland. News of the Dead is that book. As part of the Book Festival’s Reading Scotland series, we have commissioned a new short film made by Robertson and award-winning filmmaker Anthony Baxter which is premiered at the beginning of the event. Set in the Angus glens, the five-minute piece evokes the spirit of the landscape and the mood of the novel, forming the perfect introduction to a discussion about Robertson’s landmark book.”
Harry Josephine Giles and Ely Percy: The Drama’s in the Dialect (18 August, 4pm)
“The first full-length novel to be written in Orcadian dialect in over 50 years, Deep Wheel Orcadia is described by author Harry Josephine Giles as ‘a gay space communist fantasy written in a small language and about the small peace of small things’. In Ely Percy’s witty and acerbic coming-of-age novel Duck Feet, local Scots dialect also sits front and centre. Join Giles and Percy as they discuss the importance and pitfalls of writing in their home dialects with author Heather Parry.”
Peter Ross: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards (20th August, 2.30pm)
“Ross joins us in conversation with James Runcie to share his book, A Tomb with a View, and its cornucopia of stories, showing us how graveyards are far from simply resting places for the dead, but memory palaces rich with history and vitality.”
Scottish BAME Writers Network: Afrofuturism – Present Realities, Possible Futures (21st August, 1pm)
“How can Afrofuturism help the African diaspora in Scotland engender a better future for today? Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to reimagine the history of the African diaspora, while invoking hopeful and technically advanced speculative Black futures. Eilidh Akilade talks to writer Martha Adonai Williams, artist and researcher Natasha Thembiso Ruwona and writer T L Huchu to discuss the potential that Afrofuturism has to build community in the Black diaspora in Scotland, and to connect on a common past, present and future.”
You’ve Never Slept in Mine by Jessie Kesson, adapted by Jenni Fagan (27th August, 8.30pm)
“Born in an Inverness workhouse in 1916, Jessie Kesson spent her early childhood in an Elgin slum before being moved to an orphanage and eventually being sent to work in service. Despite her inauspicious beginnings, she went on to become an acclaimed writer, often drawing on her early life experiences. Best known for her novels The White Bird Passes and Another Time, Another Place, she also published poetry, short stories and more than 100 plays including You’ve Never Slept in Mine. First broadcast on BBC radio in 1983 You’ve Never Slept in Mine provided a glimpse into the lives of young women in a residential children’s home. Today it provides the inspiration for a new collaboration. Stellar Quines theatre company along with actors Genna Allan and Chloe Wyper from the Citizens Theatre’s WAC Ensemble – Scotland’s first professionally supported theatre company for performers and theatremakers with care experience – have worked closely with novelist Jenni Fagan to create a masterful adaption. It is performed script-in-hand, followed by an on-stage discussion with the cast, Jenni Fagan and Stellar Quines’ Artistic Director Caitlin Skinner (who directs).”
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?