Reviews & features: Books, Claire Sawers

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David Mitchell

12 Aug 2010

Dreaming up the non-existent

David Mitchell isn’t known for his simple approach to storytelling. His most recognisable work, the Booker-shortlisted Cloud Atlas, was described as having a ‘Rubik’s cube structure’. Ambitious and unconventional, it melted genres of airport…

You've been mangoed - Mohammed Hanif

22 Jul 2008

Edinburgh International Book Festival

The mysterious death of Pakistan’s dictator General Zia is still the subject of fevered speculation today. Mohammed Hanif tells Claire Sawers about a debut novel he’s based on memories, rumours and jokes Mohammed Hanif has always been a daydreamer.

Peter Ross on his new book Daunderlust ahead of 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

17 Aug 2014

Scottish journalist talks about his storytelling style and hidden spots in Scotland

Five words to describe your storytelling style. Rather than high-five myself, I'll quote the reviews of my book: ‘Funny’; ‘Beautiful’; ‘Full of heart’. None of those were written by my mum, the landlord of my local, or anyone else who has cause to be…

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 interview: Natalie Haynes on her debut novel

14 Aug 2014

The comedian turned author promises The Amber Fury is 'not funny. I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone'

‘It had to be set in Edinburgh,’ says stand-up comedian turned author, Natalie Haynes, about her debut novel, The Amber Fury, a story of grief, interwoven with the Greek tragedies, published earlier this year. ‘It sets the right tone for a thriller.

Kirsty Logan: author of ‘quirky, vivid, lush, wild and magical' fairytales

14 Aug 2014

The Scottish author is set to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014

What a difference a year makes. Last year, Kirsty Logan was living in Glasgow, publishing the occasional short story and poem online and in literary magazines, and she’d just been appointed books editor at The List. Fast forward 12 months and a bit, and…

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Take Five interview: Glasgow author Kirsty Logan

14 Aug 2014

The fairytale creator is due to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014

Five words to describe your storytelling style Quirky, vivid, lush, wild, magical. Four authors who we should really know about, but probably don't (yet) Emily Mackie. Elaine di Rollo. Dawn West. Caroline Bird. Three themes you find yourself…

Interview: Irma Kurtz set for appearance at 2014 Edinburgh Book Festival

12 Aug 2014

Cosmopolitan magazine’s agony aunt shares wisdom in her memoir, My Life in Agony

Irma Kurtz has been dispensing advice to readers of Cosmopolitan’s problem page for 40 years now, counselling successive generations through the changing playing fields of sex, work and relationships. She’s pulled together some of the things she’s…

Interview: Deyan Sudjic on why design matters ahead of 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival appearance

6 Aug 2014

Director of Design Museum in London talks accents and identity

‘Design isn’t an artform. It’s not about looks; it’s about meaning, it’s a way of understanding the world around us.’ Deyan Sudjic should know. Director of the Design Museum in London, he published B is for Bauhaus earlier this year, his personal A-Z of…

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 interview: Shaun Usher, Simon Garfield and Ben Harrison

31 Jul 2014

The blogger, the author and the theatre director discuss the value of letter-writing

Roald Dahl was once sent a dream in a bottle by a young reader named Amy. Kurt Vonnegut spent Christmas in 1944 locked in a tiny box car en route to a Dresden work camp. Anaïs Nin believed sex doesn’t thrive on monotony. Katharine Hepburn had…

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014: 5 musicians at the book fest

31 Jul 2014

Featuring Aidan Moffat, Julian Cope, Willy Vlautin, Gruff Rhys and James Yorkston

Aidan Moffat In contrast to the abject despair / binge drinking / furtive groping often covered in his songwriting, the spoken word artist and ex-Arab Strap member presents his latest offering with not even a PG but a U rating. The Lavender Blue Dress…

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Interview: Tony Parsons and John Gordon Sinclair on why they turned to crime writing

15 Jul 2014

The controversial journalist and Gregory's Girl actor on new found love of writing crime fiction

‘I do love a bit of blood and thunder,’ Tony Parsons confesses. ‘Gore doesn’t put me off. And I like to know the proper way to slit a throat. It’s not some drunk hacking and chopping away at a neck; there’s a clinical, far more efficient way to do it.…

Strong food theme at 2013 North Berwick festival Fringe by the Sea

16 Jul 2013

Chef Neil Forbes, Moroccan cuisine and Belhaven Brewery set for town's harbour

The ice-cream cones on the front cover of Fringe By The Sea’s programme are the first hint at this year’s strong food theme. Besides the always-tempting option of braving the gallus seagulls of East Lothian, going al fresco and taking fish and chips…

Justine Picardie presents her book at the Edinburgh Book Festival 2012

2 Aug 2012

Justine Picardie tells The List how Coco Chanel has shaped her own world

‘I wouldn’t say I have an interest in Chanel; it’s more an obsession,’ says Justine Picardie. The former Vogue features editor and journalist wrote 'Coco Chanel, The Legend and the Life' after almost ten years of rigorous research. As she tried to learn…

Vidal Sassoon

17 Aug 2010

The style icon talks to Claire Sawers about his life and book

At the height of his celebrity, in the peak of his playboy yachts-and-champagne years, Vidal Sassoon was aboard a boat in Capri, where he was spending the summer. Bobbing in the bay, surrounded by friends, Sassoon looked over at an English boy who was a…

Louise Welsh's Naming the Bones

17 Aug 2010

The author's newest novel meanders between boozers and burial grounds

Louise Welsh’s latest novel was inspired during a trip to Germany, but set in her beloved Scotland, though it’s not the reverie of an expat looking through tartan-tinted glasses. Naming the Bones meanders between Edinburgh boozers and Highland burial…

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Amy Sackville

12 Aug 2010

Retreating into imagined worlds of the past

Amy Sackville’s debut novel, The Still Point, is an Arctic love story which has already drawn comparisons with Virginia Woolf. Set in modern England, Julia is the great-grand-niece of an explorer whose story fascinates her and she often dreams about the…

Edinburgh Festival 2010: More Fringe show highlights

16 Jul 2010

Some of the shows to look out for at the Fringe

With over 2,400 shows to choose from at this years Fringe festival, it's all to easy to succumb to the paradox of choice. Here we present our picks for some of the smaller shows that are worth looking out for.

Planet of the Shapes: Susie Orbach

20 Aug 2009

The bestselling psychotherapist on body fascism

In 1978, psychotherapist Susie Orbach wrote the bestselling Fat is a Feminist Issue, warning against dieting, and outlining the compulsive behaviour linked to eating disorders. Fast forward 30-odd years, and have we paid heed to her warnings? In her…

Jason Donald

20 Aug 2009

Opening doors in other people’s memories

‘The reaction to Choke Chain has been positive and often emotional,’ says Glasgow-based author Jason Donald, whose first novel was published earlier this year. His debut is a tender, at times uncomfortable, coming-of-age tale of two brothers growing up…

Xiaolu Guo

12 Aug 2009

Creating political parables out of flying saucers

After her reading at the Book Festival last year, Chinese author Xiaolu Guo spent a lot of her Q&A session chatting about the literary headaches, not to mention boredom, created by translating from her first language, Chinese, into English. She had gone…

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Tariq Ali

7 Aug 2009

Merging a passion for politics with love of literature

Protocols of the Elders of Sodom was published recently, and reads like a ‘best of’ of Tariq Ali’s musings on a few giants of world literature. Taken from articles and essays written over the past 30 years for Time Out and The Guardian among others, the…

Susan Greenfield

14 Aug 2008

Being proactive about identity

Short attention span? Inability to turn down chocolate biscuits? Memory of a long-term dope smoker? Susan Greenfield, the Oxford-based neuroscientist, is hoping to shed light on these problems and more, when she appears here to discuss her latest book.

Martin Bell

14 Aug 2008

Seeking truth and an end to sleaze

Eleven years after New Labour’s landslide victory, Martin Bell has been considering Tony Blair’s legacy. More specifically, the white suit-wearing BBC war correspondent turned independent MP, and now UNICEF ambassador, wants to work out where it all…

Health Warning

7 Aug 2008

Simon Singh has upset many people with his damning views on holistic treatment. Claire Sawers asks if he has his finger on the pulse of alternative therapy Don’t get Simon Singh started on reiki massage. And as for ear candles or oxygen therapy, that’s…

Alan Johnston

7 Aug 2008

Life-enhancing event from ex-hostage

When Alan Johnston was kidnapped at gunpoint in Gaza and held in solitary confinement for 114 days, he used an imaginary wooden life raft and a mind-game called the River of Time to keep himself sane. As the last western journalist who had stayed to…