2018 Book Festival champions Freedom to Think

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The Edinburgh International Book Festival has launched its programme for August 2018, with a focus on the importance of freedom of speech, movement, expression and identity.

The Festival, which runs from 11 to 27 August 2018, features more than 900 authors from 55 countries in a wide-ranging programme of events including talks, workshops, debates and readings across two sites in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square and nearby George Street.

Tickets on sale from 8:30am, Tuesday 26 June - advance registration advised!

Nick Barley (above), Director of the Book Festival said:

The Book Festival in Edinburgh is an unbeatable place for meeting inspiring people and sharing big ideas. This year’s programme brings together writers whose experiences will truly change our way of looking at the world: from the emerging Rwandan-Burundian superstar Gaël Faye to the legend of Kenyan writing Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, this is the most international of festival programmes – but one that also proudly celebrates its Scottish history and context.

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The Freedom Papers

At the heart of the Festival's theme of freedom will be The Freedom Papers, a series of essays, narratives and illustrations by 52 authors from 25 countries, specially commissioned by the Book Festival.

Topics covered by the Freedom Papers will include issues surrounding LGBTQ+, race, religion, immigration, disability, education and technology. Many of the Papers' authors will appear in person at the Book Festival, including Hawa Jande Golakai (above left) from Liberia, Iraqi writer Shahad Al Rawi (above left-centre), Australian Bruce Pascoe above centre), Yaba Badoe from Ghana, Scotland’s Aminatta Forna (above right-centre) and UK Paralympian, Ade Adepitan (above right).

The Freedom Papers will be published as a special supplement to July's issue of Gutter magazine before forming the basis of a series of events at the Festival in August, including the Freedom Finale closing concert.

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Big names

Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong'o (above left) will make his first appearance in Edinburgh for 12 years, and is among a host of big names appearing at the Festival, including Norway's Dag Solstad, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Chelsea Clinton (above left-centre), Susan Calman, Rachael Kushner, Greg Wise, Richard Powers, Susie OrbachMatt Haig and Ruby Wax (above right).

As a forum for ideas and discussion, the Book Festival always welcomes a range of politicians and thinkers looking at the modern world, and this year's programme is no exception. Making an appearance are major names including Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn in discussion with Guest Selector and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who will also appear with Labour Peer Shami Chakrabarti.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon returns to the Festival in discussion with Ali Smith and there are also appearances from deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, activist Gina Miller, Conservative politician Jesse Norman and broadcaster Robert Peston.

The worlds of Sport and Music are well-represented too, with cyclists Mark Beaumont and Graeme Obree, triathlete Louise Minchin and footballer Tony Adams present, alongside Brett Anderson (above right-centre) of indie heroes Suede, Viv Albertine of The Slits and legend of metal, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. There will also be stars of hip hop and grime music, with Akala, 1Xtra's DJ Semtex and DJ Target and the return of The Last Poets.

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New forms and live performances

Queen guitarist Brian May (above left) also features in August's programme, appearing alongside photographic historian Professor Roger Taylor in a unique 3D presentation looking at the work Scottish photography pioneer George Washington Wilson.

In another first for the Book Festival, readers will be able to sign up to digital event, The Right Kind of Chaos, combining technology and the storytelling of David Leddy (above right), with the tale told over the course of 10 days in messages sent through WhatsApp.

Bringing tales to life in more traditional ways, the Festival will feature a series of live performances in the Playing with Books strand of events, including two pieces of work from Glasgow company, Visible Fictions, one an immersive mystery at Edinburgh's Central Library, The Hidden, and the other as extracts from the company's musical theatre adaptation of Cathy Forde's young adult novel Fat Boy Swim, featuring Forde herself in discussion afterwards.

Spoken word is featured strongly, with the festival's Babble On strand featuring the likes of Claire Askew (above right-centre), Inua Elams (above left-centre) and Murray Lachlan Young.

And back in the world of theatre, the Festival works with Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre on special performances based on three inspiring books from recent years, Isabel Greenberg’s graphic novel The One Hundred Nights of Hero; Mexican superstar Yuri Herrera's noir classic Signs Preceding the End of the World; and Scotland’s Ali Smith with her acclaimed How to Be Both.

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The Lyceum is also the partner for part of the Book Festival's celebration of the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark's birth, with a rehearsed reading of her only piece written for the stage, Doctors of Philosophy.

Spark (above left) is also commemorated in the Festival's expansion into George Street, with the new Spark Theatre and a series of events paying tribute to the world-famous writer.

A second centenary is also celebrated this summer, as the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth is marked by the appearance of his daughter Zindzi (above right) and great-grandchildren Zazi and Ziwelene who will discuss the life and legacy of their iconic ancestor.

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Guest Selectors

Joining Yanis Varoufakis (above left) as Guest Selectors at this year's Festival are Adele Patrick (above left-centre), the Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager at Glasgow Women’s Library; Writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch (above centre); Artist Tania Kovats (Above right-centre); and Iranian artist Ehsan Abdollahi (above right) whose battle to be granted a visa to attend the 2017 Book Festival was successful after a campaign of protest.

Also included as Guest Selectors in Scotland's Year of Young People are the Book Festival's Young Programmers, a group of young people aged 8-14 from the Craigmiller area of Edinburgh who have helped co-design a series of events under the banner Codename F. Topics covered include gender politics and surveillance, as the youngsters, born in the UK, Poland, Oman and Indonesia, explore some of the key issues of their lives and futures.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said:

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has long been a highlight in the Edinburgh Festivals’ calendar, bringing together the world's finest authors, including the best of Scotland’s creative talent. This year's programme – with its focus on freedom and its wide-ranging offer of compelling talks and events – is sure to stimulate debate and intrigue audiences, raising Scotland's cultural profile on the international stage.

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland added:

The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018 program is bursting at the seams with international ideas, giving Scottish audiences the opportunity to hear from an incredible range of global voices. Creative Scotland are proud to support the world’s biggest celebration of writing and ideas right here in Edinburgh and are looking forward enormously to this inquiring, outward looking exploratory festival.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from 11-27 August and tickets go on sale at 8:30am on Tuesday 26 June - advance registration advised! 

Explore the Book Festival programme now at edbookfest.co.uk.

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