World’s biggest book festival unveils this year’s programme

Published On June 16, 2011 | By | Books, Comics, Conventions and events

This morning marked one of the most important dates in the Edinburgh (and indeed Scottish and British and world-wide) literary calendars – the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the world’s largest celebration of the wonder of books, unveiled the programme for this year. In August, as the Scottish capital is bursting to the seams with the world’s biggest arts festival (seriously, the city’s population almost doubles during the Festival and Fringe in August, it’s something else), the Book Festival will open its doors in beautiful Charlotte Square in Edinburgh’s New Town (which we call new, despite being centuries old, we reckon time a bit differently here). Almost 800 authors in over 750 events will delight an estimated 200, 000 book lovers of all ages on almost every subject –  history, biography, politics, art, science, crime, science fiction, all sort’s of children’s reading and again I’m delighted to say the comics world will will represented too.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Programme Launch 03a
(EIBF director Nick Barley combining cosplaying as one of the Reservoir Dogs with telling us about some of the highlights in this year’s programme at the launch in Edinburgh’s lovely Central Library, pic from my Flickr)

Some of the blog crew’s very favourites will be there – Sarah McIntyre and Metaphrog mentioned to me that they will be there showing younger readers how to make art and comics, the Etherington Brothers will be serving up some Monkey Nuts, the brand new Children’s Laureate, the wonderful Julia Donaldson will be in charge of her own strand, including an event that will appeal to lovers of kid’s books and great illustration alike, when she talks with her three principal artists from her books, Nick Sharrat, David Roberts and Axel Scheffler (and as our own Richard has been pointing out, there in an increasing crossover between picture books and comics for younger readers). Writer and cartoonist John Fardell will discuss the art and craft of Herge’s immortal Tintin, while  Doctor Mel Gibson, one of the great British academic champion of the value of comics, will be explaining just how valuable the medium can be for getting younger readers into book, alongside Emma Vieceli.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2010 - Sarah McIntyre 02
(the sparkly Sarah McIntyre at the 2010 Book Fest, pic from my Flickr)

Two artists who debuted very fine graphic novels from Jonathan Cape earlier this year, William Goldsmith (the remarkable and very unusual Vignettes of Ystov, a visually unique series of interconnected short tales in a fictional eastern European city) and Nick Hayes (The Rime of the Modern Mariner, which Nick was good enough to give us a Director’s Commentary on just recently), will be there, and, as with a brace of new authors who have debut books this year at the Book Festival, they will be entered into the longlist of the Newton First Book Award. The mighty Steve Bell returns after his very fine strand last year at the Book Fest, to discuss political cartooning.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Programme Launch 02
(new education and children’s programme director Janet Smyth unveils some of the delights for younger readers and young adults, including some comics workshops, pic from my Flickr)

The internationally acclaimed Shaun Tan will be in Charlotte Square, whole Kelly Link will be talking with Audrey Niffenegger (who also has her own strand of guest programming) about science fiction, fantasy and realism. Audrey will also be talking about her own work, including the SF romance The Time Traveller’s Wife and her graphic novel The Night Bookmobile. Oh, and in her guest strand Audrey will be talking to a certain gentleman of letters who will be paying a welcome return visit to the festival, comics scribe, novelist, scriptwriter (most recently for Doctor Who), the one and only Neil Gaiman, which should be a superb evening. And Scotland’s own comics superstar scribe Grant Morrison will be there to discuss his new book, out next month from Cape, Supergods, a combination of history of superhero comics and autobiography.

Neil Gaiman at Edinburgh Book Festival 2009
(Neil Gaiman at his first EIBF appearance in 2009 where he appeared with Ian Rankin – you can read a report from that event here on the blog, pic from my Flickr)

And that’s just me doing a rapid scan through the two-week plus programme after the launch and picking out some of the graphic novel and SF events – there’s an enormous amount of other events in there, including a homage to the brilliant Scots writer and artist Alasdair Gray (a national treasure), which will include acting out one of his works with fellow authors joining the actors on stage. There are literally hundreds of book events for children, young adults and the grown-up adults: poets, historians, politicians (top SF author and local lad Iain Banks will be in conversation with Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond), reporters, scientists, novelists, artists… Well, the list goes on. And the on-site bookstore will supply you with much enjoyable browsing and the chance to pick up all sorts of work (and if you are lucky get them signed by the authors), including a selection of graphic novels (which I am pleased to say we’ve been able to help with). And yes, I know I do go on a bit about it each year, but seriously, if you love reading then this is the Mecca for the book lover, the biggest festival to celebrate the remarkable world of books of all sorts. It’s a delight and I hope some of you will be making the trip to Edinburgh this August to enjoy it (and all the rest of the festivals and this incredibly beautiful city). Fingers crossed I’ll be hoping to attend some of the events myself and report them on there as usual. The Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place from the 13th to the 29th of August and you can explore all the many events (including a number of special free ones) on the EIBF website.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Programme Launch 04
(some of the literary community at the programme launch this morning in the splendid environs of Edinburgh’s Central Library – a great venue to launch a book festival programme in and also affording an appropriate spot for the speakers to make clear their support for the value of our public libraries in the face of government cuts. In the left of centre you can see Sandra and John from Metaphrog, creators of the lovely Louis graphic novels, pic from my Flickr)

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3 Responses to World’s biggest book festival unveils this year’s programme

  1. Thanks, Joe! I’m afraid my events won’t be open to the public; I’m doing two events as part of the RBS Schools Programme, so the schools have to pre-book. But I’ll be there, and quite possibly even sneak some whisky out of the Yurt like last year…. 😉 Look forward to seeing you!

  2. Aly says:

    Don’t forget Cory Doctorow. He’ll be reading from Makers and answering incisive, Paxman-esque questions from me (probably!).

  3. Joe says:

    Sarah, as long as I get a chance to see you and Em in the Spiegeltent! And some of us have already scored whisky – came in little book bag we all got this morning, yay!

    Aly, didn’t realise you were talking with Cory, should be fun.