Candia McWilliam will discuss her memoir at the EIBF

This article is from 2010.

Candia McWilliam will discuss her memoir at the EIBF

The festival veteran considers her own difficult story

‘I have loved the Edinburgh International Book Festival all its 22 years,’ says Charlotte Square Gardens veteran Candia McWilliam. ‘It makes an annual conversation about books and about thinking, about what it is to share in the examined life. It is intimate and serious, familial and exalting.’ And her appearance this year is likely to be more electric than any she’s made before. In 2006, following years of writers’ block, she discovered she was losing her sight. The disconcerting process of composing through dictation released a series of memories, difficult, jagged associations of her mother’s suicide, finding her bearings in London and Cambridge, losing those bearings and a descent into alcoholism.

Her event promises to be doubly momentous for her Edinburgh audience, who’ve been party to her confessions at festivals past. Not only will McWilliam present her first book in over a decade (instead of the special EIBF story she traditionally came to pen the day before her ‘gig’) with the eagerly-awaited What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness, but she will also read from it, having had her sight restored thanks to pioneering surgery in 2009. ‘Every year, a new surprising theme gradually declares itself throughout the Book Festival; in that way, it’s like a good novel, with its own momentum of jokes, revelations and interior life.’

ScottishPower Studio Theatre, 0845 373 5888, 19 Aug, 8.30pm, £10 (£8).

Candia McWilliam

Last year, Candia McWilliam arrived to deliver her event with newly-restored sight after an operation had brought an end to a two year period of blindness. The condition which had brought about her blindness came on top of many years of writer’s block, but during these sightless days McWilliam found she had rediscovered…

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