The best Scottish writers appearing at the 2013 Edinburgh Book Festival
- Karyn Dougan
- 5 August 2013
This article is from 2013.
Allan Wilson, Krystelle Bamford, Michael Pedersen and Pippa Goldschmidt
As some of the world’s finest writers prepare for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, there’s ample local talent to be found as part of this year’s 30 year celebrations.
According to critic Tom Leonard, Allan Wilson ‘reads like the real thing’. His debut Wasted In Love was a perceptive and compassionate exploration of the human condition, using stark prose and dark humour to expose the tragedy of love.
Still concerned with this theme of love and its effect on the ordinary and the mundane, Wilson admits it is the crucial inspiration behind his writing.
‘Kafka said: “there's an infinite amount of hope in the universe, but not for us”. Hard to accept but I think it's true. So then you say, what's the point in my time here? And for me it comes down to relationships. There's no hope except in each other.’
No doubt this inspires his next novel, Meat, for which he was awarded a Dewar Arts Award in 2012. He refuses to tie himself down to one project, though – another novel, short stories, plays and a non-fiction project with his granddad are all on the horizon.
Despite her uncertainty and the ‘insubstantial response to very real political problems,’ previous New Writers Award winner Krystelle Bamford found a touching universality in poetry during her time at Reel Iraq.
‘You realize a country’s political problems don’t strip away the peculiar concerns that give poetry traction,’ Bamford explains. ‘They suddenly seem, in a way hard to achieve through any other medium, like something that could happen to you.’
Celebrating the culture of a country potentially obscured by media headlines, the Reel Iraq festival’s goal is to increase communication between Iraq and countries like the UK through the arts. Bamford and three other Scottish poets met and performed with their Iraqi counterparts, translating and re-creating each other’s work – something she believes helped to make an 'honest poet' out of her.
‘Having your poems deconstructed word by word makes you more deliberate the next time round (there’s nothing worse than having to say ‘I just liked the sound of it’ out loud).’
Bamford will be reading her dark and unflinching poetry as part of Unbound, free evening events in the EIBF Spiegeltent showcasing the best of words, comedy, music and performance.
A lyrics writer, playwright and co-founder of Neu!Reekie! spoken word nights, Michael Pedersen considers himself a poet first. His talent is evident in his freshly published collection Play With Me which Irvine Welsh called ‘smart, hilarious and quirky’.
The fascination with poetry began with stealing collections from his mother’s bookshelves.
‘I liked that poetry could express things very differently and I often felt – in a synesthesia type of sense – there was colour in sound and sound in colour.’
After a pause, he adds, 'Also, as a teenager, I heard it was a good way to get girls.’
Despite collaborating on numerous different projects – including a co-written play with Alan Bissett – and people deeming poetry as ‘the most niche of literary forms’ Pedersen insists that poetry is an invaluable form of expression: one with a wonderfully cathartic effect.
‘It’s expressing yourself with a higher degree of efficiency than in everyday life,’ he says. ‘If you can do that with literary justification, you can write very good sorry notes.’
‘I wanted to write fiction to explore what it feels like to make a discovery, to learn about new things, to make mistakes and to inhabit that liminal place where you’re not sure if you’re right or wrong.’
With her novel, Goldschmidt certainly got it right. Shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and recently published by Freight, The Falling Sky is a stunning debut, praised by Stephen Fry as a 'delicate and fascinating study of a life'.
So, will Goldschmidt be dazzling us with more science?
‘Oh, yes. I’m completing a collection of short stories inspired by different bits of science, such as the erotic possibilities of Einstein’s thought experiments, the influence of Snow White on the history of computing, suffragettes bombing the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh… And I’ve always wanted to write a novel about quantum physics.’
These four writers are already the crème de la crème of new Scottish literature. And they’re only getting started...
Various events, Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888.