THE 2021 Book Festival starts today (SATURDAY)

By Bill Heaney in The Democrat

The 2021 Edinburgh Book Festival is here! Join the team as they bring their inaugural hybrid Festival to audiences in-person and online this August 14-30th. The Festival may look a little different this year but it’s more accessible than ever with an online programme of 250+ events for adults, children and families, a selection of events to enjoy in-person in the state of the art studios or for FREE on the big screen in the new Festival Village Courtyard.

Popular man of many parts, Richard Holloway, always a hit at the Book Festival.

Coming up this weekend…

There is so much to enjoy during the opening weekend of this year’s hybrid Book Festival as authors from across the globe join us remotely or live on stage in Edinburgh.

Saturday 14 August

  • Prize-winning author Zoë Wicomb joins us live on stage to discuss her new novel Still Life with The Scotsman’s literary editor Stuart Kelly. Join the discussion in-person or online as Wicomb and Kelly look at South Africa’s colonial story and 19th century Scottish-South African poet Thomas Pringle. BOOK YOUR SPOTFollowing the event, Wicomb will be doing an in-person book signing on the Festival site – you can purchase your very own copy from our on-site Bookshop.
  • Don’t miss American author Torrey Peters who brings her debut novel Detransition, Baby to this year’s Festival. Recently longlisted for the Women’s Prize, the first time an openly trans writer has been nominated, hear from Peters as she shares what it is like to suddenly find yourself in the spotlight. Tickets are available to watch in-person or live online. BOOK YOUR SPOT
  • Take your place with Graeme Armstrong, Jenni Fagan & Caleb Femi as authors of The Young Team, Luckenbooth and Poor discuss what home, environment and community mean in a post-pandemic world. BOOK YOUR SPOT

Saturday’s stellar line-up also features Jenny ErpenbeckGrace Blakeley & Ian Goldin, Kei MillerHoda BarakatHans Ulrich ObristMariana Enríquez and our special introduction to the 2021 Book Festival – Opening Night: Culture in a Time of Crisis.

Explore what’s on Sat 14 Aug

Activist and author of memoir-cum-manifesto The Properties of Perpetual Light Julian Aguon and prize-winning author of poetic essay collection Small Bodies of Water Nina Mingya Powles come together to discuss their books and environmental perspectives in a live event with an author Q&A. BOOK YOUR SPOT

  • Poet of the people and the first Young People’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi shares his debut collection which has been called ‘a landmark debut for British poetry’. BOOK YOUR SPOTFollowing the event, Caleb Femi will be doing an in-person book signing in the Festival Village.
  • Tara June Winch, winner of Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, brings her third novel to the Festival. Told in three masterfully woven narratives, The Yield is a celebration of language and an exploration of what makes a place ‘home’. BOOK YOUR SPOT

Sir Tom Devine, history man will appear at the Book Festival.

Don’t miss events with Joan Bakewell & Richard HollowayPat Nevin & Val McDermidTom Devine & Allan LittlePaul Sng, Kit de Waal & Tanatsei Gambura, Nick Bryant, and The Bad Seeds’s Warren Ellis. Tickets for attending these events in-person have all been snapped up but they are available to enjoy live online and on-demand on a Pay What You Can basis.

Explore what’s on Sun 15 Aug

Not-to-be-missed events next week…

Mon 16 August

  • Prize-winning poet Robin Robertson and artist Tim Robertson bring their gorgeous new collection of Scottish-based folk tales, Grimoire, to the Festival as they join us live on stage in Edinburgh. Don’t miss this unique event where Tim draws live on stage while brother Robin performs a haunting reading. BOOK YOUR SPOT
  • TV producer and writer Jed Mercurio and actor Prasanna Puwanarajah join forces to produce the first in a brand new graphic novel series Sleeper. We welcome Val McDermid live on stage in Edinburgh to chat to Mercurio and Puwanarajah who take part remotely. Tickets are available to attend in-person in our studios or to watch live online. BOOK YOUR SPOT

Tue 17 August

  • Get a taste of Scotland’s vibrant publishing landscape at our Scottish Publisher Showcase, featuring an impressive line-up including authors Jackie Kay, Val McDermid and David Keenan and chaired by broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson, pictured right.. Tickets are available to attend in-person or watch from home online.
  • BOOK YOUR SPOT
  • Novelist and perfumer Sara Sheridan launches her new historical novel The Fair Botanists set in Edinburgh and chats to journalist Jackie McGlone live on stage. BOOK YOUR SPOTFollowing the event, Sheridan will be taking part in an in-person book signing in the Festival Village.
  • Don’t miss your chance to hear from Shola von Reinhold live on stage in Edinburgh. Von Reinhold will also be taking part in an in-person book signing of Lote – an exquisite, genre-bending novel set in Scotland. BOOK YOUR SPOT

Wed 18 August

  • Join us for a theatrical performance followed by a discussion with author of Sea State, Tabitha Lasley, as part of our Playing with Books collaboration with the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. Tickets are available to attend in-person or watch from home online. BOOK YOUR SPOT
  • Harry Josephine Giles & Ely Percy discuss their books, written in home dialects, live on stage in Edinburgh. Giles brings Deep Wheel Orcadia – the first full-length novel to be written in Orcadian dialect in over 50 years – and Percy brings Duck Feet, a coming-of-age novel using Scots dialect. Tickets are available to attend in-person or watch online. BOOK YOUR SPOT

Thu 19 August

  • David Peace and Chris Power chat to director of Push the Boat Out poetry festival, Jenny Niven, about their new books set in Berlin and Tokyo, and their unusual writing techniques. Tickets are available to attend in-person or watch online.
    BOOK YOUR SPOT
  • As part of our Reading Scotland series, Helen McClory joins us live on stage in Edinburgh with her eagerly anticipated debut Bitterhall. McClory worked with fiilmmaker Bryan M Ferguson to create a short film based on the book which will be screened for the first time at the event. BOOK YOUR SPOT.After the event, Helen McClory will be doing an in-person book signing on the Festival site.

Two events from The Business of Books – our programme of FREE events for those interested in the book trade – take place on 19 August:

  • Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing: Lasting Change. BOOK FOR FREE
  • Opening Up Books: Creating Book Events for People with Learning Disabilities. BOOK FOR FREE

Watch events online

Our packed programme of over 250 events is available to watch online and on-demand at edbookfest.co.uk. All you need to enjoy the wonderful programme of online events is your login details and booking confirmation email. You’ll also receive an event reminder email with a ‘watch’ link 30-60 minutes before the start time of each event you have booked.

Once booked, simply log in to your Book Festival account before the event starts and go to the event page where you will see a ‘go to player’ button. It will take you to the event videoplayer page. Every livestreamed event has a chatroom on the videoplayer page where you can post comments and chat to other audience members.

Watch online FAQs

The New York Times Series

Broadcast live from the Book Festival, The New York Times Series brings together award-winning journalists, leading writers and thinkers from across the globe to unpack the pressing issues shaping our world. Across five events – each led by expert journalists and editors from The New York Times – we talk about the actions, decisions and revolutions that got us to where we are today, and where we could potentially go from here.

  • Too Much Information? 
    How far can publicly available data take us in the search for truth? How do journalists determine the facts and balance public interest with privacy? Join Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat, and author Eyal Weizman as they unpick the questions at the cutting edge of modern journalism with Matt Thompson.
  • Out of the Hot Zone 
    What measures can we put in place to ensure our survival? Join the discussion as experts and authors talk about how we can use sustainable food practices to reclaim our future.
  • The Force of Law 
    After 20 years of the U.S. War on Terror, author Samir Puri, and journalist Tariq Ali, and Gwen Hines, C.E.O. of Save the Children UK discuss whether there can ever be a humanitarian justification for war with Pentagon correspondent Helene Cooper.
  • Forces of Nature: Youth Voices of Climate Change 
    In this event, three young female activists talk about fighting for a future that’s worth living for with The New York Times’s Elizabeth Paton.
  • The New York Times Book Review: The Power of Words
    In the 125th anniversary of The New York Times Book Review, join journalist John Williams as he chats to American poet, novelist and essayist Patricia Lockwood and debut novelist Natasha Brown, who are special guests all pushing the boundaries of language, genre and style.

You may also be interested in The New York Times Climate Hub — nine days of journalism, thought leadership and ideas that inspire action. In person and online from Glasgow, November 3 – 11, 2021.

Enjoy live events in the Courtyard – FREE!

New for 2021, we’ll be screening a selection of events live on our big outdoor screen each day of the Festival. Alongside the livestreams, there will also be staged events for children, including costumed character appearances, all for FREE in the lovely leafy Festival Village Courtyard at Edinburgh College of Art.

Free Daily Events in the Courtyard

A selection of Book Festival events will be live-streamed onto our large outdoor screen in the charming, leafy courtyard of Edinburgh College of Art every day during the Festival. Alongside the livestreams, there will also be staged events for children – including costume character appearances. Take a look at the daily schedules below to find out what’s on.

Saturday 14 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Julia Donaldson: Songs and Stories for Little Ones (Children’s event, AGE 3+)

11:30 – Zoë Wicomb: Questioning South Africa’s Colonial Story

13:15 – Grace Blakeley & Ian Goldin: Creating Global Change from Crisis

14:30 – Malorie Blackman: Noughts & Crosses, 20 Years On (YA event, AGE 12+)

16:00 – Kei Miller: Silence is Violence

17:30 – Torrey Peters: Modern Families, Baby

19:00 – Hans Ulrich Obrist: Art for Earth’s Sake

20:30 – Opening Night: Culture in a Time of Crisis

What’s on the Outdoor Stage

11:00 – Costume Character Appearance: Say Hello to the Gruffalo (Suitable for children and families)


Sunday 15 August

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What’s on the Big Screen

Footballer Pat Nevin is on with crime writer Val McDermid 13.00

10:00 – Jodie Lancet-Grant: Parrots, Pirates and Nautical Adventures (Children’s event, AGE 3+)

10:45 – Dapo Adeola: Love the Skin You’re In (Children’s event, AGE 5+)

11:05 – DrawAlong with Lucy Farfort (Suitable for children and families)

11:30 – Michael Rosen: Migration Stories (Children’s event, AGE 9+)

13:00 – Pat Nevin with Val McDermid: Scottish Football’s Indie Kid

14:30 – Caleb Femi: Poet of the People

16:00 – Tom Devine with Allan Little: Rewriting Scotland’s History

17:15 – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: Play the Cards You’re Dealt (YA event, AGE 14+)

19:00 – Nick Bryant with Allan Little: The History of Donald Trump

What’s on the Outdoor Stage

10:10 – Costume Character Appearance: Say Hello to the Gruffalo (Suitable for children and families)


Monday 16 August

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What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Steve Antony, Maureen Phillip & Alexandra Strick: Just Be Yourself (Children’s event, ALL AGES, LD Friendly)

10:30 – DrawAlong with Dapo Adeola (Suitable for children and families)

11:30 – Helena Attlee with Lev Atlas & Greg Lawson: Fiddler on the Don

13:15 – Dreaming Big on Climate Change with Mya-Rose Craig (Children’s event, AGE 9+)

14:30 – Robin Robertson & Tim Robertson: Spirits of Scotland

16:15 – Cherie Jones: Behind the Barbadian Picture Postcard

17:30 – Reading Scotland: James Robertson, Ghost of the Glen

19:15 – Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor: Across the Indian Ocean

20:30 – Jed Mercurio & Prasanna Puwanarajah: The Bionic Policeman


Tuesday 17 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Sara Sheridan: On the Scent of Untold Riches

11:00 – Scottish Publisher Showcase

13:00 – Sarah Ardizzone, Marianne Dubuc & Greet Pauwelijn: Translation Adventures (YA event, AGE 12+)

14:30 – Reading Scotland: Shola von Reinhold, Frock Consciousness

16:00 – Salena Godden: Bringing Death to Life

17:30 – Alexander McCall Smith: Human Kindness

19:15 – Rachel Kushner: Postcards from America

20:30 – Stories & Scran


Wednesday 18 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:15 – Axel Scheffler: Hooray for Pip and Posy! (Children’s event, AGE 3+)

11:30 – Ciaran Martin with Tom Devine: Where Next for the United Kingdom?

13:15 – Leah Cowan, Julián Fuks & Abbas Nazari: Surviving Hostile Environments

14:30 – Denise Mina: Treason and Plot

16:00 – Harry Josephine Giles & Ely Percy: The Drama’s in the Dialect

17:30 – Alex Renton & Lisa Williams: Scotland’s Black History Happens

19:15 – The New York Times Series: Too Much Information?

20:30 – Playing with Books: Sea State by Tabitha Lasley

What’s on the Outdoor Stage

10:00 – Costume Character Appearance: Say Hello to the Gruffalo (Suitable for children and families)

10:40 – Costume Character Appearance: Say Hello to Pip and Posy (Suitable for children and families)


Thursday 19 August

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What’s on the Big Screen

10:15 – Alice Blackwell & Barbara Henderson: Artifacts and Fiction

11:30 – Alan Warner: Confessions of a Rock Groupie

13:15 – David Grossman with Elif Shafak: Duty or Love?

14:30 – Val McDermid: The Winter of Our Discontent

16:15 – Eva Baltasar & Lina Meruane: Body Politics

17:30 – Reading Scotland: Helen McClory, The New Edinburgh Gothic

19:15 – Raven Leilani & Patricia Lockwood: Sharp, Fragmentary Fiction

20:30 – Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Ambrose Parry & Mary Paulson-Ellis: Summer Crime Wave

Val McDermid’s latest book is 1979, a big success with punters.

Friday 20 August

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What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Carol Ann Duffy: ‘You Danced On the Road, Blowing Kisses’

11:15 – Allen Fatimaharan & Hannah Lee: 99 Problems but a Beat Ain’t One (Children’s event, AGE 3+)

12:05 – DrawAlong with Nadia Shireen (Suitable for children and families)

13:00 – Kevin Barry: Looking Across a Bog to the Bluestack Mountains

14:15 – Scholastique Mukasonga: Reclaiming Rwanda’s Stories

16:00 – Vivian Gornick: A Map of American Feminism

17:15 – The New York Times Series: Out of the Hot Zone

19:00 – Salman Rushdie with Allan Little: Standing in the Rubble of Truth

20:30 – The Ultimate Book Show with Thando Mgqolozana

Irish author Kevin Barry, writer of some hilarious short stories.


Saturday 21 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Michael Morpurgo: Finding Hope in Nature (Children’s event, FAMILIES & 5+)

11:15 – Oti Mabuse: Dance with Oti! (Children’s event, AGE 3+)

13:00 – Scottish BAME Writers Network: Afrofuturism – Present Realities, Possible Futures

16:00 – Pat Barker: The Women of Troy

17:30 – Judith Bryan, S I Martin & Nicola Williams with Bernardine Evaristo: Black Britain, Writing Back 

19:00 – Maggie O’Farrell, pictured: Loves, Labours, Loss

20:30 – Meet the Makar: A Toast to Scotland’s New National Poet

 

What’s on the Outdoor Stage

10:45 – Costume Character Appearance: Say Hello to the Gruffalo (Suitable for children and families)


Sunday 22 August

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What’s on the Big Screen

10:15 – Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell: Pirate Stew! (Children’s event, AGE 5+)

11:30 – Jasbinder Bilan & Efua Traoré: Stories of Magic and Mythology (Children’s event, AGE 9+)

13:00 – Jeanette Winterson: Remaking Ourselves

14:30 – Alastair Chisholm & Elle McNicoll: Can Robots Be Friends (Children’s event, AGE 9+)

16:00 – Rachel Clarke, Gavin Francis & Kate Mosse: Care in the Time of COVID

17:15 – Marwa al-Sabouni & Annalee Newitz: Rebuilding Hope

19:00 – Doireann Ní Ghríofa: A Ghost in the Throat

20:15 – Kate Aronoff & Elizabeth Kolbert: Reimagining our Response to the Climte Crisis

What’s on the Outdoor Stage

11:00 – Costume Character Appearance: Say Hello to the Gruffalo (Suitable for children and families)


Monday 23 August

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What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Eilidh Muldoon: Sandy Toes and Inky Fingers (Children’s event, AGE 7+)

10:30 – DrawAlong with Sarah van Dongen (Suitable for children and families)

11:30 – One City: A Just Capital?

13:00 – Jessie Greengrass & Gwendoline Riley: The Agony of Love

14:30 – Alison Bechdel: Can Exercise Fix Us?

16:15 – Minouche Shafik: Recipe for a Better Society

17:30 – Reading Scotland: Graeme Armstrong, Welcome tae Airdrie

19:00 – Natasha Brown & Olivia Sudjic: Unravelling Lives

20:30 – Songs from Scotland


Tuesday 24 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Kate Milner: Making the Most of a No-Money Day (Children’s event, AGE 5+)

10:45 – DrawAlong with Sarah Horne (Suitable for children and families)

11:30 – Alison Watt with Andrew O’Hagan: The Joy of Influence

13:15 – Craig Brown: The Slippery Art of Biography

14:30 – Sathnam Sanghera: How Imperialism Shapes Modern Britain

16:00 – Pragya Agarwal & Shon Faye: Reframing the Personal and Political

17:30 – Peter Scott-Morgan: Rewiring Humanity

19:15 – The New York Times Series: The Force of Law

20:30 – Reading Scotland: Jen Hadfield, Landscape and Light


Wednesday 25 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Anders Frang & Jonathan Meres: The Little Bat Who Was Afraid of the Light (Children’s event, AGE 3+)

11:30 – A L Kennedy, pictured right, : We Are Not Dead Yet

13:00 – Tice Cin: Three Women of Cyprus

14:30 – Elif Shafak: If Trees Could Speak

16:15 – Celebrating the Shortlists of the James Tait Black Prizes

17:30 – Kathleen Jamie, Peter Mackay & Don Paterson: Heavenly Scottish Poetry

19:15 – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: The Myth of Human Progress

20:30 – Playing with Books: The Long Drop by Denise Mina

What’s on the Outdoor Stage

10:45 – Mini Bookbug Rhyme Time (Children’s event, UNDER 5s)


Thursday 26 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Debi Gliori: A Man’s Best Furry Friend (Children’s event, AGE 6+)

10:35 – DrawAlong with Sue Cheung (Suitable for children and families)

11:30 – Reading Scotland: Ross Sayers with Niamh McKeown, Adventures on the Clockwork Orange

13:15 – Samanta Schweblin: Tales from the Uncanny Valley

14:30 – Raja Shehadeh: The Quest for Peace

16:00 – Eimear McBride: Disgust

17:30 – Ali Smith: Art in a Time of Lies

19:15 – Lisa Taddeo: Violently in Love

20:30 – Jackie Kay: My Libidinous, Raunchy, Fearless Blueswoman


Friday 27 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:15 – John Agard & Piet Grobler: A Poem for Our Planet (Children’s event, AGE 7+)

11:00 – DrawAlong with Allen Fatimaharan (Suitable for children and families)

11:30 – Devi Sridhar: A Very Political Pandemic 

13:00 – Daisy Lafarge & Evie Wyld: Strong Female Lead

14:30 – Matt Haig: Reasons to Feel Okay

16:15 – Cressida Cowell: Never and Forever (Children’s event, AGE 9+)

17:30 – Tracey Thorn: Music, Memories and the Blue Moon Rose

19:15 – The New York Times Series: Forces of Nature: Youth Voices of Climate Change

20:30 – You’ve Never Slept in Mine by Jessie Kesson, adapted by Jenni Fagan 


Saturday 28 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

11:30 – Sita Brahmachari, Cressida Cowell & Piers Torday: What a Wonderful World

13:00 – Emma Dabiri: Beyond the Anti-Racism ‘How To’ Guide

14:15 – Ed Miliband & Ece Temelkuran: The World We Want

16:00 – Gavin Esler & Samir Puri: Brexit, Britain and the Legacy of Empire

17:15 – Shon Faye & Travis Alabanza: Freedom Beyond Toxic Narratives

19:00 – Jeremy Atherton Lin: Coming Out, Going Out

20:30 – Hysteria: A Post-Apocalyptic Cabaret

What’s on the Outdoor Stage

10:00 – Sprog Rock (Children’s event)


Sunday 29 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Gordon Brown: Global Crisis, Global Solutions

11:30 – Tom de Freston & Kiran Millwood Hargrave: In Search of Sharks (Children’s event, AGE 9+)

12:15 – DrawAlong with James Mayhew (Suitable for children and families)

13:00 – Charlotte Higgins: Why Greek Myths Still Matter

14:15 – Ming Chen, Wah Chen & Carmen Vela: One Day We Had to Run

14:25 – DrawAlong with Eilidh Muldoon (Children’s event)

16:00 – Abir Mukherjee with Val McDermid: Calcutta on the Brink

17:30 – Maggie Nelson: The Many Meanings of Freedom

19:00 – Kazuo Ishiguro: On Being Human

20:30 – Michael Pedersen presents Good Grief!


Monday 30 August

Download Schedule

What’s on the Big Screen

10:00 – Philip Ardagh: Puss ‘n’ Books (Children’s event, AGE 5+)

10:45 – DrawAlong with Harriet Muncaster (Suitable for children and families)

11:30 – Can Artists Still Break the Rules? Revisiting Strategy: Get Arts

13:00 – Leone Ross: All the Flavours of Love

14:30 – Ian Rankin: William McIlvanney – The Last Word 

16:15 – Helena Merriman: Undermining the Berlin Wall

17:30 – Playing with Books: The Yellow Door by Kathleen Jamie

19:00 – Alicia Garza with Nadine White: Building Moments Into Movements

20:30 – Douglas Stuart with Nicola Sturgeon: Welcome Home, Shuggie Bain

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Stuart, who wrote Shuggie Bain.

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