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Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

This article is from 2020

Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

Discover your new favourites at one of EIBF's 140 online events taking place this August

Though the Edinburgh International Book Festival will not be returning in its physical form to Charlotte Square Gardens this year, an innovative and wide-ranging online programme of 140 events has been announced in its place. From Sat 15 – Mon 31 Aug, all events will be free to watch on, with live conversations, discussions and readings from 200 authors and illustrators, as well as audience chat rooms, Q&A sessions, a new online Festival bookshop and virtual meetings with authors for book signings.

As well as some of the most recognisable names in contemporary fiction, including Maggie O'Farrell, Marian Keyes, Sebastian Barry, Bernardine Evaristo, Arundhati Roy and Anne Enright, the programme includes the brightest lights of the Scottish literary scene, plus up-and-coming voices worth keeping an eye on. Here, we round-up the events and strands we're most looking forward to, which will no doubt help you discover new favourites, unknown gems from around the world and more than a few new additions to your summer reading pile.

Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

Shokoofeh Azar

International Booker Prize shortlisted authors

The Book Festival is always a terrific place to see and meet some of the year's top award-winning and shortlisted authors, and this year's online programme is no exception, with events featuring each of the nominees for the International Booker Prize, as well as a first conversation with this year's winner shortly after they are announced on Wed 26 Aug.

In Reap What You Sow (Mon 17 Aug, 2.30pm), Sophie Collins chairs an event with Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translator Michele Hutchison about their debut coming-of-age novel The Discomfort of Evening, and After the Iranian Revolution (Wed 19 Aug, 11.30am) features Iranian writer Shokoofeh Azar and Marjorie Lotfi Gill. The Memory of Forgetting (Thu 20 Aug, 1pm) includes Japan's Yoko Ogawa and translator Stephen Snyder in conversation with writer and Guardian critic Catherine Taylor about Ogawa's surreal 1994 tale The Memory Police, while The Female Gaucho (Thu 20 Aug, 11.30am) sees leading figure in Argentine and Latin American literature, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, talk about The Adventures of China Iron with her translators Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre and fellow Argentinian novelist and writer Mariana Enriquez. In Another Mexico (Sat 22 Aug, 2.30pm) celebrated Mexican author Fernanda Melchor comes together with translator Sophie Hughes and poet Juana Adcock to discuss Hurricane Season, and in When History Prefigures Our Own Times (Mon 24 Aug, 1pm), Ross Benjamin and Daniel Kehlmann speak to Stuart Kelly about Kehlmann's picaresque novel Tyll.

Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

Douglas Stuart

Booker Prize longlisted authors

Five of the phenomenal authors nominated for the 2020 Booker Prize will be appearing at the online Book Festival, including Tsitsi Dangarembga (Mon 24 Aug, 11.30am) who, alongside rising star of Scottish poetry Nadine Aisha Jassat, took part in the Book Festival's Outriders programme, exploring the shifting landscapes of contemporary Africa. The pair will share their unforgettable experiences, and some of the writing it inspired, with researcher Kate Simpson. Also included in the line-up is Douglas Stuart on The Making of Shuggie Bain (Wed 26 Aug, 5.30pm); Maaza Mengiste, who speaks to Jess Brough about her latest novel The Shadow King (Wed19 Aug, 5.30pm); Colum McCann (Tue 18 Aug, 5.30pm) in discussion with leading Palestinian writer and lawyer, Raja Shehadeh about his new novel Apeirogon; and double Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel (Sat 16 Aug, 8.30pm), who talks to Guardian chief culture writer Charlotte Higgins from her home in Devon.

Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

Kirstin Innes

Made in Scotland

As a programme which celebrates the work of authors, writers and trailblazers from Scotland, Made In Scotland is a great opportunity to revel in some of the best writing from our shores. This August's line-up features Kirstin Innes (Fri 21 Aug, 4pm), who joins Heather Parry to discuss much buzzed-about new novel Scabby Queen, as well as Michel Faber (Tue 25 Aug, 11.30am), Ali Smith (Fri 28 Aug, 8.30pm), and Andrew O'Hagan (Sat 30 Aug, 5.30pm).

Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi / credit: Mark Rusher

Africa: A Balance of Stories

In this interesting and insightful strand, authors from across the continent tell their stories, plus we hear from the ten writers involved in the Book Festival's Outriders programme, who were commissioned to journey across Africa and create new works from their experience, giving voice to untold stories. Highlights include Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi: Uganda's First Woman of Fiction (Wed 19 Aug, 2.30pm), Alain Mabanckou: Rewriting the Congolese Story (Fri 21 Aug, 5.30pm), and Wayétu Moore: Setting Liberia's History Free (Wed 26 Aug, 4pm).

Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

Susan Abulhawa / credit: Chase Burkett

Women of the World

This strand focuses on writing by and about women from around the globe – featuring authors who have written specifically about female experience and issues around feminism, as well as simply some of the best world fiction from international award winners and superstars of the future. The line-up includes American novelist and editor Jenny Offill (Mon 17 Aug, 4pm) Argentine writer Selva Almada (Tue 25 Aug, 1pm), Guadeloupean novelist, critic and playwright Maryse Condé (Tue 25 Aug, 2.30pm), Japanese writer and poet Mieko Kawakami (Thu 27 Aug, 1pm), human rights activist and political commentator Susan Abulhawa (Thu 27 Aug, 2.30pm) and LA-based novelist Brit Bennett (Fri 28 Aug, 7pm).

Edinburgh International Book Festival: A window to the world's best stories

Dean Atta

Fierce Fiction for Teens

As always, the Book Festival is pleased to host events that will appeal to younger readers too, with this year's series for young adults taking a fearless and unflinching look at those issues which still hinder many from being accepted. Events not to miss include Shine On (Thu 20 Aug, 5.30pm), in which Dean Atta and George Lester discuss their stunning and moving works The Black Flamingo and Boy Queen, and Writing Resistance (Thu 27 Aug, 5.30pm) which sees New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin Nic Stone appear in conversation with international poetry and social media sensation Nikita Gill to discuss how writing can ignite change and challenge stereotypes.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Online, Sat 15–Mon 31 Aug. Full details can be found at 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. Books will be available to buy and get signed online, while viewers can submit questions for authors and chat online with other audience members too.