The Write Stuff: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 (+1) Picks Of The Edinburgh International Book Festival…

From the 10th – 26th August, Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square Gardens (and George Street) once again becomes the place for book lovers to meet, greet, and be merry as the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes up its annual residence. It’s always an oasis of calm and conversation in a city gone daft, and it is one of SWH!’s favourite places to be.

There’s a lot of great events to choose from, so to help you find something just for you here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten Picks of what to see at this year’s book festival (with a bonus extra because, like a Nigel Tufnell amp, this Top Ten goes up to 11).

This is Memorial Device by David Keenan – Saturday 10 August 15:30 – 17:00

Early 1980s Scotland in Airdrie, a former mining village. This is the setting for David Keenan’s achingly evocative fictional history of local post-punk band Memorial Device. It’s a hallucinatory love letter to the shipwrecked youth of this Central Belt hinterland whose lives contained little other than music – and Benny’s chip shop.

In partnership with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and writer-director Graham Eatough we present a theatrical response to Keenan’s cult hit, featuring music selected by Stephen McRobbie from Glasgow band The Pastels. After the 45-minute performance, the creative team is joined on stage by Keenan to discuss This is Memorial Device.

You can hear David Keenan discussing This Is Memorial Device with SWH! below:

Chris McQueer & Russ Litten – Saturday 10 August 20:30 – 21:30

Chris McQueer’s short, side-splitting stories keep coming in HWFG, the follow-up to debut Hings. Nurtured in Scotland’s spoken word scene and described as ‘Charlie Brooker on Buckfast’, his stories illuminate lives on the margins. Novelist Russ Litten foregrounds working class lives in We Know What We Are. His first story collection centres on Hull in its City of Culture year, and has drawn comparisons to James Kelman.

You can hear Chris McQueer in conversation with SWH! below:

Karen Campbell & Marcus Malte – Tuesday 13 August 13:45 – 14:45

Ex-police constable Karen Campbell is back with The Sound of the Hours, a book about love and loss set in an occupied Italian town during the Second World War. French author Marcus Malte brings us The Boy, his award-winning historical novel which follows the tale of a feral child’s episodic journey through variations of early 20th century society. Two emotional tales of family, passion and war. Chaired by Jenny Brown.

You can read the SWH! review of The Sound of the Hours here…

Outriders: Jenni Fagan & Harry Josephine Giles – Wednesday 14 August 13:45 – 14:45

In 2017, we sent ten writers across the Americas for Outriders, a project of complex journeys, exploring controversial themes during which the writers exchanged ideas. Ahead of Outriders Africa later this year, Jenni Fagan and Harry Josephine Giles return to discuss how their journeys influenced them. Their work since includes Fagan’s poem ‘Truth’, written while travelling the USA, and Giles’s ‘Traveller’s Lexicon’, responding to their journey from Montreal to Churchill.

Jenni Fagan’s There’s A Witch In The Word Machine was one of SWH!’s Best Books of 2018…

Kate Hamer & Doug Johnstone – Friday 16 August 13:45 – 14:45

The tenth crime novel from Edinburgh’s Doug Johnstone, Breakers follows a teenager trying to escape his dysfunctional family whilst implicated in the assault of a crime-lord’s wife. In Crushed, Kate Hamer’s follow-up to the bestselling The Girl in the Red Coat, can Phoebe control events to such a degree that when she thinks about murder, carnage occurs nearby? Meet two accomplished writers of lively lawless tales in conversation with writer and broadcaster James Crawford.

You can read the SWH! review of Breakers here…

Stuart Cosgrove – Friday 16 August 20:45 – 21:45

Broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove rounds off his superb 60s soul trilogy with Harlem ’69. The area at the heart of the Black Panther movement became a byword for crime, but was also a furnace for black creativity that defined popular music for decades, producing icons like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Jimi Hendrix. Hear about these conflicting legacies in an unmissable event for music lovers.

You can read the SWH! review of Harlem ’69 here…

Beerjacket – Saturday 17 August 18:30 – 19:30

Glasgow alt-folk musician Beerjacket (aka Peter Kelly) has played with some of the biggest names in music, from Frightened Rabbit to The National, thanks to his rich songwriting style. With new album-book combination Silver Cords, he has paired each song with a story spun from the lyrics. They act as a bulwark against the impermanence of digital music and Beerjacket shares them with you in this event.

You can hear Beerjacket in conversation with SWH! below:

Nadine Aisha Jassat, Mariam Khan & Amna Saleem – Saturday 17 August 19:15 – 20:15

In a time of heightened Islamophobia, racism and the misrepresentation of Muslim people, writer and activist Mariam Khan lets Muslim women speak for themselves. It’s Not About The Burqa is the stunning result: a landmark anthology of essays by and about seventeen Muslim women. Join Khan and contributors Nadine Aisha Jassat and Amna Saleem for an illuminating and powerful event.

You can hear Nadine Aisha Jassat in conversation with SWH! below:

Henry Bell & Kenny MacAskill – Monday 19 August 15:45 – 16:45

January 1919, a world in turmoil: Ireland declared its independence, while Trotsky led the Red Army in Poland. Maybe that’s why workers’ demonstrations in Glasgow led the British establishment to roll army tanks into George Square. Henry Bell’s John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside and Kenny MacAskill’s Glasgow 1919 offer coruscating new perspectives on the major players and events in a key period in Scotland’s political history. Chaired by Ruth Wishart.

You can hear Henry Bell in conversation with SWH! below:

Sarah Henstra & Elle Nash – Saturday 24 August 20:30 – 21:30

Two novelists discuss timely, provocative books about youth, gender politics and violence with author Helen McClory. Sarah Henstra’s searing examination of rape culture on college campuses, The Red Word, won Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction when it was first published in 2018. Elle Nash’s Animals Eat Each Other takes an unflinching look at obsessive love and has been described as a ‘heart bomb.’

You can read the SWH! review of Animals Eat Each Other here…

Andrew Crumey – Sunday 25 August 15:30 – 16:30

Acclaimed Scottish writer and critic Andrew Crumey talks to Stuart Kelly about The Great Chain of Unbeing – his collection of short stories that journey across space and time, taking readers from the Renaissance to the atomic age and off into far-flung futures in space. With echoes, repetitions and connections across the book and even into Crumey’s other novels, a larger story begins to unfold.

You can read the SWH! review of The Great Chain of Unbeing here…

You can peruse the full programme here, and follow the festival on Twitter & Facebook as well as YouTube & Instagram.

You can still read Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten Picks Of The Fringe for 2019.

Fringe Benefits: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 Picks Of The Edinburgh Fringe…

For many of us August means Edinburgh and its attendant festivals. As ever, the Fringe in particular has so much on offer that it can be tough to see past the big names, sort through the plethora of posters, and separate the wheat from the cultural chaff.

To help you do so here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten picks of the Fringe. There’s comedy, poetry, theatre, music and more – hopefully, something for everyone.

This Script – (Jenny Lindsay) – Scottish Storytelling Centre

At a time of schisms within feminism, where sirens are the soundtrack to our newsfeeds, This Script combines poetic memoir with a fierce call for empathy. With Jenny Lindsay’s trademark wit and lyrical dexterity, this is a show delving into often turbulent contemporary waters with an ultimate striving for understanding, empathy and action. From #MeToo to ageing in a gendered world: can she rewrite this script? Can you? ‘This Script is sharply written, charmingly performed, and needs saying’ (Luke Wright). ‘One of this year’s most necessary spoken word performances’ (TheWeeReview.com).This Script – (Jenny Lindsay), Aug 4 – 11 – Scottish Storytelling Centre

Big Wendy – (Emily Benita), Sweet Novotel – Novotel 3

2018 was going to be Emily’s year. Finally starting to do stand-up and on track to being more funny ha-ha than funny peculiar; maybe even become a fully functioning adult human woman. But when her mum’s cancer diagnosis becomes terminal, she finds herself on an awfully big adventure. Featuring grief, boys who never grow up and jokes, promise. As seen on BBC Scotland’s Short Stuff, one-third of sketch outfit Ambush, and co-host of Glasgow’s grassroots, idiosyncratic comedy night The Salon, this is Emily Benita’s debut solo Fringe hour.

Suffering From Scottishness – (Kevin P. Gilday), Assembly Roxy

Citizen Scotland cordially invites you to take part in a focus group that will define the very future of the nation – for better or worse. An immersive theatrical experience that confronts the unique absurdity of Scottish identity. Award-winning writer and spoken word artist Kevin P Gilday (Sonnet Youth, National Theatre of Scotland, BBC) turns a hilariously caustic eye on notions of nationhood and patriotism. From history to inventions, language to neighbourly relations, the independence referendum to the toxic mire of present political debate – we gleefully dissect the still-beating dark heart of the countrySuffering From Scottishness – (Kevin P. Gilday).

Bible John – (Poor Michelle and the Pleasance), Pleasance Courtyard

1969 at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow, three women are murdered by an Old Testament-quoting serial killer, nicknamed Bible John. He has never been caught. 2019, four women bound by their obsession with true crime want to change that. Immersing themselves in the world of Bible John and his victims, they try to solve the case, once and for all. A riotous, furious, joyful exploration of violence, gender and one of Scotland’s darkest mysteries from Poor Michelle (Samuel French New Play Award 2017). Recipient of Pleasance’s Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve 2019. Previous praise: **** (Scotsman). **** (Stage).

Young Night Thought – (Kirsty Law), Pianodrome at The Pitt

How do you climb a tree without worrying about the fall? Why do you dream up the monsters in the shadows? Kirsty Law’s Young Night Thought binds Scots folklore, song, film, artwork and dance in an exploration of the inner child. Driven by an extraordinary live band this show leads you across the threshold of the supernatural and back again. ’Weaves a dexterous path between the animated vocal mannerisms of Ani Di Franco and the wide open instrumentation of early Massive Attack’ (Acoustic Magazine). ‘Spellbinding’ (Max Reinhardt, BBC Radio 3, Late Junction). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

From When I Wake The Want Is – (Kathryn Joseph), Summerhall

An intimate and provocative live performance that ‘evolves into a hypnotic whirlwind of warring emotions’ (Herald), Cryptic’s critically acclaimed, poignant staging of award-winning singer Kathryn Joseph’s second album returns by popular demand. Renowned for her spellbinding vocal style and strong lyrical aesthetic which showcases both vulnerability and strength, Joseph moves and engages in equal measure. Complemented by Cryptic’s ‘intense, intimate, immaculately stylised presentation’ (Scotsman), From When I Wake will ‘ravish the senses’ and reach right to the soul with a performance where ‘hearts are broken and stolen in equal measure’ (List). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com. Seated.

Islander: A New Musical – (Helen Milne Productions), ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

Eilidh stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever. Epic storytelling, intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score. The cast live-record and layer their voices to create an ethereal adventure for the ears and imagination. ‘Superb’ (Herald). ‘Lush, harmonic voices’ (List). ‘A real treat of a production’ (AllEdinburghTheatre.com). Originally developed in association with Comar. Part of the Made in Scotland 2019 showcase. www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

Dreamboat – (Christopher MacArthur-Boyd), Gilded Balloon Teviot

The wee speccy future of Glaswegian stand-up returns to Edinburgh with a brand-new hour. As seen on BBC Scotland’s Up For It, and as heard on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4 Extra. Live support for Kevin Bridges, Jason Manford and Russell Kane. Recently listed 59th on a list of the 60 funniest people in Scottish history. ‘Endlessly enjoyable’ **** (Skinny). ‘Genius writing’ **** (List). Intelligent, articulate, and incredibly funny’ ***** (TheWeeReview.com). ‘Downright impressive… no spare moment lacks a laugh’ ***** (ShortCom.co.uk).

#GIRLHOOD – (Cat Hepburn), Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Award-winning writer and spoken word artist Cat (BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC The Social, Radio Scotland, STV) debuts the stage adaptation of her hit poetry book. Nostalgic, hilarious and heartbreaking, her performance deconstructs and satirises the milestones, conventions and pressures that girls and young women face. ‘Hepburn’s new collection is the lovechild of slam poetry and the snatched rant over coffee or in the loo… Bittersweet, irreverent and to-the-point, these poems speak of life’s knots and identity pitfalls all too clearly’ **** (Skinny). ‘Cat Hepburn helped make poetry cool again’ (Scottish Sun).

DRONE – (Harry Josephine Giles, Rob Jones, Neil Simpson and Jamie Wardrop), Summerhall

A live jam of music, video and poetry, this multimedia theatre show tells the true story of a military drone’s life and fears. The Drone is a weapons system, an office worker, a background hum. The bleak humour and tender fury of Drone sees the unmanned aerial vehicle as the technology of a neurotic century, asking how anxious people can live as part of systems of such astonishing destruction. Drone is mixed new every night: a cabaret band of a video jockey, an electronic musician and a spoken word performer. ‘A state of the nation address’ (Scotsman). www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com

You can download the full Fringe programme here.