One of those questions you are asked to ponder every now and then is, “Who would you invite to your perfect dinner party”. Well, it looks like those organising this year’s Dundee Literary Festival have gone one better and put together a dream festival line-up. Running from today (19th) to Sunday 23rd, it shows off contemporary Scottish literature at its best, but offers much more, including celebrations of some lesser known writers including Shakespeare, H.G. Wells, and Shirley Jackson.
I can’t think of a better conversation I’d like to be part of than one between Liz Lochhead, James Kelman, Don Paterson, Jenni Fagan, and Alan Cumming, but that’s essentially what the Dundee Literary Festival 2016 is offering. However, that’s just the headliners. Like all the best festivals much of the interesting stuff is lower down the bill. The following is a short preview which only scratches the surface of what’s on offer, so, for the full programme, download the brochure here.
Herring Tales: How the Silver Darlings Shaped Human Taste and History with Donald S. Murray tells the fascinating tale of the herring industry which was a major and essential industry in Scotland, and its history tells us much about how modern Scotland was formed, particularly with regard to the north. Comics are as central to Dundee’s mythology as jute, jam and journalism, and there are a few events which celebrate this. But, if I was to pick only one I would go for Comics Masterclass with Ian Kennedy, a man who worked on comics from as early as the 1950s through to a stint on the legendary 2000AD.
Future Scotlands sees writers and cultural commentators Matthew Fitt and Tim Armstrong talking about the future of Scots and Gaelic, both real and imagined. A timely discussion, what with Dylan’s Nobel Prize award, is Instrumentals with Roddy Woomble accompanied by Andrew Wasylyk. Woomble is still best known as the frontman with Idlewild, and is one of Scotland’s finest lyricists. One of the most interesting panels is Amy Liptrot & Malachy Tallack whose books have two very different but equally fascinating takes on island life.
It wouldn’t be a Scottish literary festival without some crime fiction, and Crime at Teatime: Russel D McLean & Lin Anderson will satisfy those for whom Bloody Scotland is a book festival and not simply a football related expletive. The event with Sue Lawrence + Martin Cathcart Froden looks at historical crime fiction, and is also notable for the former being best know as one of Scotland’s most highly regarded food writers (and winner of MasterChef in 1991, fact fans). I’m sure no-one will mistakenly attend looking for advice on the perfect Arbroath smokie, but, if they hang about for the Q&A, they might just get it.
This is the tenth year of the Dundee Literary Festival, and I think it boasts its best programme yet. For all the information you need, and to keep up with unfolding events, follow the festival on Twitter and on Facebook.
In the meantime here is Mr Roddy Woomble: