Rev Jesse Jackson and Alan Cumming announced for 2015 Edinburgh International Book Festival

Festival promises to take us 'Around the World in 18 Days' as stellar lineup boasts Nicola Sturgeon, Val McDermid, Paul Merton, Caroline Lucas and Jaume Cabé

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This article is from 2015.

Edinburgh Book Festival launch

Ian Rankin chatting with Alan Cumming, and Nicola Sturgeon talking crime with Val McDermid – just two of the striking events among 2015’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, whose programme is announced today.

It’s the most international-focused Book Festival to date, with writers from more than 55 countries jetting into Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square Gardens for the Festival’s theme of ‘Around the World in 18 Days’. Acclaimed international writers visiting Edinburgh include Spain’s Jaume Cabé, Germany’s Jenny Erpenbeck and Denmark’s Helle Helle, as well as Han Kang from South Korea, North Korean exile Hyeonseo Lee and Alain Mabanckou from Congo.

A Trading Stories strand of events focuses on how literature travels, with events based around translation, language and identity, and international influences on Scottish writing. Marina Warner looks at international fairy tales, and translator Daniel Hahn examines the politics of taking stories across borders.

Among the big names appearing elsewhere in the festival are US civil rights activist the Rev Jesse Jackson, playwright David Hare, Irvine Welsh, Paul Merton, Louis de Bernières, David Mitchell and Howard Jacobson. In a strong political strand, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon chats to Val McDermid about her new crime novel; Alex Salmond talks capitalism with Channel 4 economics editor Paul Mason; Gordon Brown ponders the future of Scotland; and the Green Party’s sole MP Caroline Lucas looks at the Westminster system.

The festival also continues its recent tradition of appointing guest selectors to curate programme strands. Mexican visual artist Gabriel Orozco speaks to seven of his country’s novelists; Virago publisher Lennie Goodings offers a female perspective on the world; and the Guardian’s chief culture writer Charlotte Higgins explores globalisation and xenophobia. Author of young adult novels Gill Arbuthnott encourages us all to get into science; and Edinburgh’s own Ian Rankin chats with some of his favourite writers and musicians, including Alan Cumming, Viv Albertine, Edwyn Collins and Stuart David.

There’s a strong performance strand, too, including appearances from Kate Tempest and George the Poet, as well as a dramatic reading of Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowolf in a co-production with The Tron. Actor Mary Rylance reads from Paul Kingsnorth’s novel The Wake, and Edinburgh makar Christine de Luca performs her Shetlandic translation of the Finnish epic The Kalevala, with live music from Shetland fiddler Catriona MacDonald.

The Stripped strand on graphic novels and comics features events on the birth of democracy in Greece and the politics of the Middle East, and the late-night Jura Unbound returns with live, informal literature evenings in the festival’s Spiegeltent.

And among the festival’s huge children’s programme, Julian Clary and Danny Wallace both unveil their first books for young people, Cressida Cowell launches her final How to Train Your Dragon book, Chinese artist and writer Haji Noor Deen renders the Koran in calligraphy, and there are visits from Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and even Miffy the rabbit.

‘Scotland has always been an outward-looking nation and this year the Book Festival is more international than ever before,’ said Director Nick Barley. ‘Whether they are from Nigeria or North Korea, Colombia or China, these are writers whose stories shed light not only on the big changes in world power, but also on the shifting nature of local cultures – changes that are also taking place in Scotland.’

Edinburgh International Book Festival run 15–31 Aug at various venues.

This article is from 2015.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

The world’s largest public celebration of the written word takes place in the first UNESCO City of Literature in the beautiful Charlotte Square Gardens. As well as leading Scottish and international authors, the varied programme always manages to cover poets, politicians, historians, journalists and children's authors…

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