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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Write On: A Preview Of Aye Write 2015…

I don’t wish to be cruel, or at least I don’t enjoy it, but for a few years now the Aye Write! Book Festival has felt like it had lost its way somehow. While there continued to be must attend events, the programming appeared to lack focus and thought, with panels often featuring writers with little in common, or there were similar writers appearing in different rooms at the same time, splitting potential audiences.

I’m genuinely delighted to say, having taking time poring over this year’s programme, that Aye Write! seems to have rediscovered its mojo. You know a festival is on the right lines when it threatens to bankrupt you as you add tickets to your basket. While all successful events rely on a good team, kudos must surely go to Bob McDevitt, this year’s guest programmer, for presiding over such sterling work.

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