BOOKS: Wrapping up 2023’s Edinburgh International Book Festival

And just like that…

Good morning, and hello September. How can it be a full week now since we were wrapping up 2023’s Edinburgh International Book Festival? Is it too early to say we miss it?
Over the last few weeks, we welcomed established writers with dozens of books under their belts, and emerging writers such as the community groups involved in the daily ‘Our City, Our Stories’ readings.

We housed thought-provoking conversations between writers in the venues around our Book Festival Village, and we also brought authors off-site to visit prisons, libraries, and hospitals.

We hosted joy-filled draw-offs between illustrators, panel discussions between industry experts, and meet-the-character encounters for children and families in the courtyard.

And none of this would have been possible without you: what a joy it was to welcome thousands upon thousands of audience members to our site each day at Edinburgh College of Art. We continue to be inspired by your insightful questions and infectious passion for the written (and spoken) word. Bring on August 2024!

Five Festival Highlights

Our theme this year was ‘the joy of words’ and here are five things during the Festival that sum that up for us:

1. The winding signing queues each day: most notably the excitement reverberating off of the hundreds of young people waiting to meet Alice Oseman, copies of Heartstopper clutched in their hands.

2. Hannah Lavery and Marjorie Lotfi’s performance of their stunning new poetry pamphlet, The World May Be the Same. The work was a meditation on belonging and otherness told in poem letters inspired by Edwin Morgan. The hushed audience was totally enthralled.

3. The Loud Poets’ Grand Slam Final: a lively evening where 12 poets competed for the title of Slam Champion after qualifying through a series of Scotland-wide competitions. Congratulations to crowned winner, Jo Hunter.

4. Cellist Steven Isserlis accompanying Sebastian Barry as he read from his Booker- longlisted novel, In God’s Time. One commentor online said of the event, ‘in all my decades of participating in the Book Festival, this event surpassed all others’. It really was something special.

5. Hearing the incredible Jackie Kay, Val McDermid, Ali Smith, Elif Shafak, and Bernardine Evaristo share the driving forces behind their work to date in a series of events titled, ‘What Makes a Writer?’.

Five moments, but we could have chosen so many. What a wonderful Book Festival it’s been. And for those wondering about what’s coming up next…

A handover of directors

2023 didn’t only mark our 40th anniversary – it was also the last Festival led by our director of 14 years, Nick Barley.

Over these 14 years, the Book Festival has seen an ever-evolving cultural landscape. Under Nick’s leadership, the Festival has grown with these changes, becoming an international stage for wide ranging conversations about books, stories, and ideas.

In this time, some of the greatest names in literature, both at home and worldwide, have come through the doors of the Book Festival to inspire and engage the imagination of audiences in the heart of the Scottish capital. We’d like to thank Nick for the many innovations he’s brought to the Festival, and wish him all the best for the future.

Now, Jenny Niven takes over as director of Edinburgh International Book Festival. Jenny is a cultural producer and director with an extensive track record leading innovative international and Scottish projects.

In 2021 Jenny founded the award-winning Push the Boat Out, a festival of poetry, spoken word, and language. Her previous roles include executive producer of Dandelion, an epic programme of sowing, growing, and sharing across Scotland; executive producer of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit; and head of literature, languages, and publishing at Creative Scotland. She has created and directed book festivals and ideas programmes in Beijing and Melbourne, and participated in literature festivals around the world. She was named in The List’s ‘Hot 100’ people influencing Scotland’s arts and cultural landscape in 2022.

Jenny will lead the Book Festival into our 41st year in our new new home at Edinburgh Futures Institute.

Read more

Exclusive October events
Tickets on sale 12 September

We’re excited to announce two exclusive author events to close our 2023 Festival season.

Coming to the Assembly Rooms in October, we look forward to welcoming Michael Palin and Val McDermid to discuss their new releases.

Michael Palin joins us on 3 October with his new book, Great-Uncle Harry: A Tale of War and Empire. Inspired by the diaries, letters, and photographs he tracked down of his great uncle who tragically died during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, Palin walked the route that Harry took on the final day of his life. It’s a moving tribute to an ordinary man and his extraordinary life.

Val McDermid joins us on 11 October with her much-anticipated new thriller Past Lying, the seventh book featuring the iconic DCI Karen Pirie. This time, a University of Edinburgh Student has vanished from her doorstep, prompting a new investigation. It’s the next in McDermid’s long line of razor sharp crime fiction that has garnered her millions of readers worldwide.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Book Festival.

Save the date: Tickets on sale 12 September, available to buy online only.
Find out more

Share your feedback and
win £200 in book vouchers

We need your feedback to make sure we’re providing the best possible experience for our audiences.

If you attended our 2023 Festival, you can help us out by completing this survey to let us know what you enjoyed, and what you’d like to see improved.

As we look forward to moving to our new home and putting together our 2024 programme, your thoughts are really important to us.

As a thank you for completing the survey, you’ll automatically be entered into a competition to win £200 of vouchers for a bookseller of your choice.

Complete the survey

And for those missing the Festival already…

You can still enjoy many of the events online from the comfort of your home. On-demand events are available on a Pay What You Can basis and your generous donations allow the Book Festival to continue.

Enjoy a wide range of on-demand events featuring Ali Smith, Ian McEwan, VE Schwab, Kamila Shamsie, and more.

Browse online events here
(Please note that while some of the events are available to watch indefinitely, others are online only until 30 September).

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