From the 11th – 27th August in 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 you’re special).
Robin Robertson, Sat 11 Aug 12:00 – 13:00 – The Spiegeltent
A renowned poet whose work often hauntingly evokes the lives of Scottish outsiders, Robin Robertson strikes out with a breathtaking new project, The Long Take. In this verse novel, Walker is a war veteran from Nova Scotia who sets out for Los Angeles in 1948. Robertson’s book demonstrates the origins of ‘noir’, presented here with period filmic and musical accompaniment.
And you can read the SWH! review of The Long Take here. Continue reading
The latest podcast is one of two halves. In the first, Ali talks to writer Zoe Strachan, (wearing her editor’s hat), about all things Out There, the anthology of LGBT writing which was published late last year, and which Scots Whay Hae! reviewed on the 18/01/15.
The two discuss the influences on and the inspirations behind the book’s conception, the perceived problems with anthologies, writer biographies, the trouble with editing, and the process of bringing so many writers together to make a coherent whole.
The second half is made up of some terrific readings from Nicola White, David Kinloch and Louise Welsh (see below), all of whom have their work included in Out There, and which were recorded at the launch of LGBT History Month at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow at the end of January. Continue reading
There is a common, if idealistic, perception of Scotland as a liberal and tolerant society, leaning nonchalantly to the left (with exceptions, such as those who like to take a morning stroll in celebration of ancient religious rivalry, and golf clubs); a place where a man’s a man for a’ that, but such a generalisation can lead to complacency and may hide troubling specifics. It is worth reflecting that homosexual acts between consenting male adults were criminal until 1980, when the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act was passed, 13 years after such legislation was passed in Wales and England. Consider how Scotland, and the rest of the world, changed in other ways between 1967 and 1980 and that disparity is as shameful as it is shocking. As Jeff Meek asks in his Afterword to Out There, the recent anthology of Scottish LGBT writing, “Why was Scotland different?”.
It’s a question which Christopher Whyte, whose story ‘Unfamiliar Rooms’ also features in Out There, posed in the introduction to his 1985 book Gendering The Nation: Studies In Modern Scottish Literature. He explores the theory that the growing importance of questions of nationalism in this period overshadowed other issues of equality. For a while it was if Scotland could only deal with one thing at a time. Certainly it has been posited before that Scottish Literature was spending so much energy justifying its existence in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s that it was a rare voice which commented that what was being offered as a Scottish canon, and, in turn, the criticism of it, was hardly diverse in terms of analysis, gender or voice. If you believe that a country’s literature is a reflection of its society, culture and people, then the connections are clear. Continue reading