For 10 days in March (15th – 25th) Glasgow’s Book Festival Aye Write! is the only show in town for lovers of fact, fiction, food, poetry, prose, biography, comics, and any other form of writing that takes your fancy. While the majority of events remain at the festival’s spiritual home of The Mitchell Library there is also plenty occuring at the CCA, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Tramway, City Halls, GFT and Glasgow University Chapel. But it is only right that Glasgow’s most famous library is the focus point for a book festival which is international in scope, but has its roots firmly planted in the city.
Here are SWH!’s carefully selected daily highlights to give you something to think about, but you can peruse the full programme at your leisure here.
You can also keep up to date with events as they unfold by following @ on Twitter or on Facebook. Tickets can be bought here and you can click the links below for further details on the individual events.
Thursday 15th – Stuart David, 7.45 – 8.45pm, University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel
Ex-Belle & Sebastian and current Looper, Stuart David is arguably better known as a musician than a writer, but his debut novel Nalda Said is one of the most-underrated Scottish novels of the last 20 years, and his memoir about his time in Belle & Sebastian, In The All Night Cafe is a must for any Scottish pop music fan. Now his latest novel, Peacock’s Alibi, is being published by Polygon, and SWH!’s very own Ali Braidwood will be in conversation with Stuart on the 15th to discuss the new book, the true story of Peacock Johnson, the Ian Rankin connection, and so much more. If you have a burning question you’ve always wanted to ask Stuart please come along as this is your chance to do so.
Friday 16th – Stuart Cosgrove, 6 – 7pm, University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel
And talking about previous SWH! podcast guests, one of our favourites, writer and broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove, will also be at Glasgow’s University Chapel on Friday to talk about his fantastic book Memphis ’68, (one of SWH!’s Best Books of 2017) the second in his acclaimed ‘Soul Trilogy’. Cosgrove knows his subject inside out, and is one of the most engaging speakers on all sorts of subjects, so it will be fascinating to hear him talk about this pivotal year in America’s history, both culturally and politically.
Saturday 17th – Peter Ross, 11.30am – 12.30pm, Mitchell Library
On Saturday morning, journalist Peter Ross will be talking to historian Daniel Gray about The Passion of Harry Bingo, Ross’s second volume of journalism from and about the lesser traveled corners of Scotland. It’s a brilliant read, which was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Non-Fiction Book Of The Year (& was another of SWH!’s Best Books of 2017), and it will be a real treat to hear the two discuss and swap tales of a country and its people which many think they know, but Ross’s reports prove that is far from the case.
The Passion Of Harry Bingo is published by Sandstone Press, and you can hear Peter talking to Ali on the SWH! Podcast from last year.
Sunday 18th – Jon McGregor Introduces… Chris Power & Chris McQueer, 8.15 – 9.15pm, Mitchell Library
If you like your writers to be called Chris, then you are in for a treat on Sunday night as two of the very best short-story writers of any name talk to novelist Jon McGregor. If you haven’t heard Chris McQueer read his tales of Glasgow living then you are in for a treat as he is one of the most charismatic and entertaining performers around. His debut collection of stories, Hings, is funny, moving and poignant. If you think there aren’t any good new writers out there, this is the event to prove you wrong.
Wednesday 21st – Ten Writers Telling Lies, 6 – 7pm, Mitchell Library
One of the most interesting literary and musical collaborations of recent years has been Ten Writers Telling Lies. It has stories and poetry from Pat Byrne, Samina Chaudry, Stephanie Brown, James Carson, James Connarty, previous podcast guest Pauline Lynch, Calum Maclean, Gillian Margaret Mayes, Michael Norton and Stephen Watt, and each has an accompanying and corresponding piece of music which the writers worked on with musician Jim Byrne. This will be an evening of spoken word and song unlike anything else at this year’s Aye Write!, and SWH! are delighted to be involved once more with Ali as the MC.
You can hear Pat, Jim and Samina talking about Ten Writers Telling Lies on the SWH! Podcast from last year.
Thursday 22nd – Martin Fitzgerald & Chris Deerin, 7.45 – 8.45pm, CCA
One of the more intriguing events of the year’s festival – the concept behind the Ruth and Martin’s Album Club blog is a beautifully simple one – make people listen to a classic album they’ve never heard three times, get them to explain why they never bothered with it before, then ask them to review it. The blog has featured some re-markable guests: Ian Rankin on Madonna’s Madonna, JK Rowling on the Violent Femmes’ Violent Femmes and Richard Osman on Roxy Music’s classic For Your Pleasure. There is now an accompanying book, and Martin will be joined on stage by Herald and New Statesmen journalist Chris Deerin. Come along to find out which albums they will be discussing and see if you agree with their assessments.
Friday 23rd – Tim Armstrong, David Eyre and Iain F. MacLeod – The New Wave of Gaelic Sci-Fi, 7.45 – 8.45pm, Mitchell Library
Ciamar a nì thu saoghal ùr sa Ghàidhlig? Ciamar a chruthaicheas tu facail leithid stèisean-fànais, luathas-teichidh no saibeirneatach? Thig còmhla ri Tim Armstrong, Dàibhidh Eyre agus Iain F. MacLeòid, a bhios a’ còmhradh air ficsean saidheansail ùr sa Ghàidhlig is mar a thèid a’ ghnè a bhrosnachadh is a leasachadh san àm ri teachd.
How do you create a new universe in Gaelic? How do you come up with Gaelic words for ‘space-station’, ‘escape velocity’ or ‘cybernetic’? Join Tim Armstrong, David Eyre and Iain Finlay MacLeod as they discuss the new wave of sci-fi writing in Gaelic and how they see the genre progressing in the future.
Simultaneous translation will be provided at this event for non-Gaelic speakers.
Saturday 24th – Mark Cousins, 1.15 – 2.15pm, Mitchell Library
Ali B: I am forever in filmmaker and writer Mark Cousins debt as he helped shape my film education by introducing me to many of my favourite films, (including the incomparable La Haine), on the late lamented Moviedrome, a TV show he presented, after the Alex Cox’ years, in the ’90s, so I am delighted and honoured to be in discussion with him at this year’s festival. He is in town to talk about his latest book The Story of Looking, which takes a look, in words and images, at how our looking selves develop over the course of a lifetime, and the ways that looking has changed through the centuries. From great works of art to tourist photographs, from cityscapes to cinema, through science and protest, propaganda and refusals to look, this book illuminates how we construct as well as receive the things we see. This promises to be, arguably, THE highlight of this year’s Aye Write!.
Sunday 25th – Alexander Newley, 3 – 4pm, Tramway
It’s always fascinating to hear new stories, and few people have as many to tell as artist Alexander Newley. The son of Anthony Newley and Joan Collins, Alexander was born into a family who were celebrities when that really meant something. Their life was one of almost un-paralleled privilege and glamour but under the gloss there were problems. His book, Unaccompanied Minor, tells the story of Alexander’s nomadic childhood; the disintegration of his parents’ marriage, and his battle to make sense of the past. Complementing Alexander’s vivid prose are more than twenty of his own artworks depicting the people who played a pivotal role in his early years. Another event chaired by SWH!’s Ali Braidwood, this is the event, more than any other, which has the potential to offer up surprising stories never heard before.
That’s all folks, and if you do make it to one of the events Scots Whay Hae! is involved with, please come and say hello.