Book Festival launches bumper 2017 lineup

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Over 1000 participants from 50 different countries will come together at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival to present the city's latest celebration of books and literature, all under the banner Brave New Words

The Book Festival runs from 12-28 August 2017 and will expand this year beyond its usual Charlotte Square Gardens venue into the adjoining George Street, with two new venues. 

New venues and showcase events 

The Bosco Theatre and the Greenhouse will offer opportunities for audiences to enjoy programming examining the Festival's relationship with the city, in the context of the cross-festival 70th anniversary celebrations in 2017. 

As part of the celebrations, the Book Festival is also staging two showcase events at other Edinburgh venues: 

  • Renowned US author Paul Auster, who celebrates his own 70th birthday this year and who will discuss his life and work in a special event presented at the Kings Theatre in partnership with the Edinburgh International Festival and the British Council as part of the Spirit of ‘47 programme.
  • Author David Mitchell, presents readings of his own unpublished micro-stories in collaboration with conductor and pianist, David Greilsammer in Edinburgh's magnificent St Mary's Cathedral. 

Guest selectors 

Mitchell is also one of the Festival's four Guest Selectors for 2017, and has put together a series of events looking at how words and music interact. Guests at these events include percussionist Evelyn Glennie, composer Sally Beamish, novelist Hari Kunzru and folk duo The Unthanks

American writer Roxane Gay has worked with Scottish Makar Jackie Kay to create discussions with Reni Eddo-Lodge, Argentina's Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Icelandic writer Thordis Elva, Margo Jefferson and others. Jackie Kay will chair the discussions which will look at Identity, Race, Gender, Feminism and Civil Rights. 

Scottish science fiction star Ken McLeod gathers writers from the fields of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, with events including high profile international authors such as Nalo Hopkinson and Ada Palmer, plus Jo Walton and Edinburgh's Charles Stross. 

Finally, Turkey's best read female author, Elif Shafak, looks at connections between fiction and the political world with a series of conversations with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, American writer Siri Hustvedt, writer, broadcaster and cleric Richard Holloway and freelance writer and publisher, Heather McDaid. 

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Main themes 

As always, the Festival has a range of key strands in its programme, this year including: 

  • Outriders, as the experiences and outcomes of the Book Festival's pan-Americas project are brought home to Edinburgh.
  • India & Pakistan: 70 Years On, marking the 70th anniversary of independence from British rule.
  • Age of Political Earthquakes, looking at how writers have responded to a post-truth world of fake news and 'hard Brexit'
  • This Woman Can, featuring amazing women from across the worlds of politics, entertainment, business, publishing and sport.
  • Visions of the Future, a series of speculative discussions on all manner of topics, wondering how the world can thrive in the 21st century
  • Playing With Books, using performance and music to bring the written word to life (see below).
  • Taking the Air, examining how storytelling affects our psychologival, physiological and social wellbeing.
  • Babble On - Spoken Word, offering performances from some of the world's best poets and spoken word artists.
  • Stripped 2017, returning to the world of comics, graphic novels and their creators
  • Reading the Final Chapter, considering the ways in which writing deals with the subject of death. 

Big names 

One of the great appeals of the Edinburgh International Book Festival is its ability to attract major names, and 2017 is no exception - as well as those mentioned already, look out for the likes of Richard Ford, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Maggie O'Farrell, Nicole Krauss, Peter Høeg, Colm Tóibín, Sebastian Barry and Ali Smith

Celebrities appearing at the Festival include Judy Murray, actors Charlotte Rampling and Stephen McGann, comedian Reginald D Hunter and broadcasters John Simpson and Jeremy Paxman

There are also big names in the world of children's literature, including Antony Horowitz, Julia Donaldson, Alex Wheatle and Cressida Cowell, plus Sir Chris Hoy, Clare Balding, Adrian Edmondson and Julian Clary. Check out our look at the Baillie Gifford Children's Programme

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Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: 

Seventy years on from the first Edinburgh Festival, the need for artists and performers to come together in celebration of free speech and the power of creativity is as great as it has ever been. Against a backdrop of political earthquakes, this year’s Book Festival proudly presents an awe-inspiring international array of writers who are closely observing the changing world and – to paraphrase the poet Emily Dickinson – telling it slant.

Nick is also the chairman of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, and a series of events celebrating international writing in translation will include authors Dorthe Nors and Samanta Schweblin. The winning novel, David Grossman’s A Horse Walks Into a Bar, will be discussed by Nick, his fellow judges, Daniel Hahn and Helen Mort, and the winning author himself, David Grossman

Performance and Music 

The Book Festival specialises in exploring literature through live performance, and 2017's programme is no exception, with a number of events including: 

  • In collaboration with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, three of the year's most discussed books, James Kelman’s Dirt Road, Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun and Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project will feature in short, dramatic on stage presentations.
  • Cellist and composer Greg Sinclair, will perform for intimate audiences of just three people, creating unique musical performances based on the thoughts and stories of the participants.
  • Composer Aiden O'Rourke joins James Robertson, whose 365 Stories inspired O'Rourke to write a piece of music every day for a year. Here, the two share songs and stories from both projects with accompaniment from Kit Downes. 

Lectures and awards 

  • This year's Frederick Hood Memorial Lecture will feature actor, raconteur and biographer Simon Callow discussing his remarkable life in conversation with Jenny Brown.
  • The Siobhan Dowd Trust Memorial Lecture will come from Cressida Cowell, who will discuss the importance of entertaining and inspiring children through stories.
  • The James Tait Black Prizes will be awarded at an event on Monday 14 August, and there will be a number of events with shortlisted authors including Eimear McBride and Garth Greenwell.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from 12-28 August 2017 and tickets will go on sale at 8:30am on Tuesday 20 June. More information about the Festival

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