We Have Lift-Off: A Preview Of The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015…

image.phpFor the past decade or so, I’ve been counting down my years in Edinburgh Book Festivals rather than birthdays. It’s a much less painful system, it means over two weeks of celebration, and the real birthday is in there somewhere for traditionalists.

While the Fringe rages all around it, this festival is an oasis of bookish bonhomie populated by like-minded folk, all obsessed with the written word. The festival team know they have a formula which works, so don’t overly tinker with it. The secret of that success? Invite the best writers available and get them to talk about their books all in the one place. What could be better?

This year it all happens between the 15th – 31st August, and, as usual, there’s far too much of the good stuff to mention it all here. I suggest reading the whole programme at edbookfest.co.uk, but not before you’ve read Scots Whay Hae’s preview of this year’s festival.

Scotland’s greatest writers are out in force, with  Ali Smith and John Burnside leading the way on the opening weekend. If you have to beg, borrow and steal to see those two (and you may have to) then no jury in the land would convict you. Janice Galloway has a new collection of short stories, Jellyfish, which I highly recommend and she is always worth listening to.  Others include previous SWH! podcast guests Louise Welsh, James Robertson, and Karen Campbell whose latest novel Rise is one of the best of the year so far. Michel Faber appears on the 29th, the author of Under the Skin and last year’s unforgettable The Book of Strange New Things.  The day before, the equally charismatic Andrew O’Hagan will be talking about the inspiration behind his latest novel The Illuminations.

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Yer Supper’s Oot: Some Memories Of Burns’ Nights Past…

It’s Burns’ Night tonight, and in previous years we have recorded special Burnscasts to celebrate the life, poetry and music of the Bard.

This year time and circumstance have conspired against us, but those podcasts are worth a listen as they feature experts on Burns, including Cameron Goodhall talking about Burns Suppers and performance, Fergus Muirhead on the music and Ronnie Young, who puts Burns’ life and work into context by looking at those who inspired him, and his contemporaries. There is also some fantastic singing from Jennie Scammell.

You can listen to the first, here and the second, here.

We hope you have a great night, and raise a glass to a man whose poetry and songs continue to enthral.

To help you do that, here are a few suggestions which may be of assistance. The best resource for listening to and learning about Burns must be the BBC’s fantastic online resource, which has some of the great and the good reading his work, while some good friends of Scots Whay Hae! have put the poems and songs into context. Continue reading