Edinburgh International Book Festival announces 140 online events

Edinburgh International Book Festival announces 140 online events

Arundhati Roy / credit: Mayank Austen Soofi

Authors and audiences from around the world are invited to keep the conversation going this August

Despite the physical event being cancelled back in April as a result of ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Edinburgh International Book Festival has today announced an innovative and wide-ranging online programme of 140 events, which will take place over 17 days in August. With live conversations, discussions and readings from 200 authors and illustrators, audiences will be able to access all events for free from Saturday 15 to Monday 31 August via the Book Festival's website, with the opportunity to also enjoy audience chat rooms, Q&A sessions, a new online Festival bookshop and face-to-face meetings with authors for book signings.

Encapsulating the Book Festival's always diverse and far-reaching annual programme, this August's online line-up is packed with award-winning writers and up-and-coming voices, with events suitable for all ages. Highlights include double Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, who discusses the final novel of her trilogy on Thomas Cromwell; Arundhati Roy reflecting on the implications of the global pandemic in Azadi, her new collection of essays; 2019 Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo in conversation with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; Turkish author Elif Shafak, who launches her new polemic How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division; and Irish author Marian Keyes in discussion about her latest bestseller Grown Ups.

Edinburgh International Book Festival announces 140 online events

Hilary Mantel / credit: George Miles

Also on the line-up is a host of phenomenal Scottish talent, including Maggie O'Farrell, Val McDermid, Alexander McCall Smith, Douglas Stuart, Kirstin Innes, Kapka Kassabova and Gavin Francis, and Andrés N Ordorica, Courtney Stoddart and Heather H Yeung of the Scottish BAME Writers Network. And elsewhere, the Book Festival will be celebrating the launch of Summer, the final instalment of Ali Smith's quartet of seasonal, and topical, novels with a one-off exclusive showing of Festival, a short film by Sarah Wood, as well as Andrew O'Hagan's first novel in five years; Michel Faber's D; Ian Rankin latest Rebus story; and Richard Holloway's Stories We Tell Ourselves.

International voices taking part in August include former war correspondent and US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power; Guadeloupe-born novelist and playwright Maryse Condé; Japan's Mieko Kawakami; Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong; and Maaza Mengiste, author of 2020 Booker Prize-nominated The Shadow King. All six authors shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize will appear in conversation with their translators (with one exception who wishes to remain anonymous), and the Festival will host the first interview with the winning author announced on 26 August. Winners of both the University of Edinburgh's James Tait Black Prizes and the biennial Edwin Morgan Poetry Prize will also be announced in August.

Edinburgh International Book Festival announces 140 online events

Ali Smith / credit: Sarah Wood

The poetry line-up will be headed up by T S Eliot Prize winner Roger Robinson, Mojave American and Latinx writer Natalie Diaz and British 'Instapoet' Nikita Gill, with appearances from Gomeroi poet Alison Whittaker, Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Sarah Crossan, British writer and poet Derek Owusu, and Allie Esiri, who welcomes actors Helena Bonham Carter, Tobias Menzies and Hamilton's Jamael Westman to read poems from her brand new anthology A Poem for Every Autumn Day.

YA audiences will be able to enjoy chats from Juno Dawson, Cassandra Clare, Dean Atta, Nic Stone, George Lester and Liz Hyder. For younger readers, there will be a 10-minute draw-a-long activity every morning at 9.30am on the Book Festival's Facebook page, plus events with Rob Biddulph, Oliver Jeffers, Julia Donaldson, Cressida Cowell, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, Konnie Huq, Helen Skelton, Lily Dyu, Eilidh Muldoon, Lari Don and Samantha Baines. Michael Morpurgo is also joined by illustrator Polly Dunbar, Philip Ardagh reads from The Railway Cat, and sensory storyteller Ailie Finlay hosts a Learning Disability friendly event with illustrator Kate Leiper.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: 'It's been a leap of faith for everyone involved, but in these extraordinary few months we've managed to transform the way we deliver our Festival, bringing writers and readers together in a new online space for discussion and imagination. Despite the challenges I've been inspired by authors' enthusiasm to try out this new approach, joining us in Edinburgh from all over the world without having to leave their homes. As society searches for ways to make sense of the new reality, it's clearer than ever that books and writers offer a framework for constructive dialogue and for sharing bold new ideas.'

Edinburgh International Book Festival Online, Sat 15–Mon 31 Aug. Full details can be found at edbookfest.co.uk and all events are free to watch through the Book Festival website. A number of events across the programme will be BSL interpreted, and further events will be live captioned.

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