We Need New Stories Says 2019 Book Festival

The programme for this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival has been launched, with the theme ‘We Need New Stories’.

Taking place from August 10-26, the Festival will bring together writers from across the world for a range of debates, conversations, performances and workshops as they champion new stories.

2019 branding web

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

Stories are devices that help humans make sense of a complex world. At a time of uncertainty, simple narratives such as ‘Make America Great Again’ or ‘Take Back Control,’ may be enticing to some, but do they tell us what’s truly achievable?

The 2019 Book Festival looks at seismic changes in 21st century society, including the impact of technology; the collapse of trust in who’s telling the truth; and the increasing dominance of certain languages at the expense of others.

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Amongst the well-recognised names launching new books at the Festival are Salman Rushdie, Ann Cleeves, Deborah Levy and composer James MacMillan, who will introduce his new memoir. Joining them in the lineup are audience favourites Eddie Izzard, Harry Hill, Joanne Harris and Roddy Doyle, who will appear in conversation with Blindboy from Irish comedy hip-hop duo Rubberbandits.

Olympian Katherine Grainger, campaigners Gina Martin and Caroline Criado-Perez, and former BBC editor Carrie Gracie will also be amongst those discussing activism, equality and inspirational women.

2019 Branding 2 web

And the programme combines Festival favourites with debut appearances, inviting the likes of Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy to appear for the first time in conversation with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Amongst other long-awaited debuts are appearances by Australian novelists Thomas Keneally and Markus Zusak, and French Man Booker nominees Annie Ernaux and Mathias Énard.

The most international programme in the Festival’s history, over 60 countries are represented amongst the lineup. Oman’s Jokha Alharthi, winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, will appear, as will Mexico’s Emiliano Monge, Rita Indiana from the Dominican Republic, and Sulaiman Addonia from Eritrea.

Indigenous voices are also given a central role in the programme. Throwing Voices, an innovative and collaborative project supported by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund, looks at how local language, culture and tradition can resonate across linguistic divides. Amongst the authors paired up to share words and objects as part of the project are Basque writer Uxue Alberdi and Irish poet Clara MacLaverty, joined by harpist Rachel Newton, and Gaelic poet Rody Gorman and New Zealand writer Tayi Tibble alongside Scottish-Indian beatboxer Bigg Taj.

Book fest story web

Elsewhere in the programme, the Baillie Gifford Children’s Festival is packed full of stories for all ages. Teenagers will be able to hear from a range of authors exploring issues of identity, including poet Dean Atta, whose debut novel Black Flamingo tells the story of a mixed-race gay teenager finding himself as a drag artist. Joining him in the lineup are former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, young adult novelist Juno Dawson, and Irish Children’s Laureate Sarah Crossan.

Younger readers can look forward to appearances from the likes of Clare Balding, Chris Hoy, Malorie Blackman and Julia Donaldson, who will be joined by her illustrators Catherine Rayner and Alex Scheffler for the launch of The Smeds and Smoos, an inter-alien love story which champions inclusivity and diversity. There’s also a new interactive children’s area to look forward to in the Charlotte Square Gardens, including sensory storytelling sessions for adults and children with severe or multiple learning disabilities.

A range of important partnerships also ensure new and important stories will be too across the city. A series of events in collaboration with WWF aim to find new ways of talking about climate change, while an ongoing partnership with the Real Lyceum Theatre presents new interpretations of cult classics. And the Citizen project, supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme, aims to bring people together in the Edinburgh communities of Muirhouse, Liberton and Wester Hailes to interrogate the word ‘citizen’.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival will take place from 10 to 26 August. Full details of the programme are available on the Festival website and tickets will go on sale from 8.30am on 25 June.

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