IT is normally a haven of calm and civilisation at the heart of the melee of the world’s biggest arts festival.
But the Edinburgh International Book Festival is set to bring major doses of glamour and celebrity to the capital this August to help celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Hollywood star Rupert Everett, Duran Duran favourite John Taylor, New Order’s iconic bass guitarist Peter Hook and comedians Ruby Wax and Rob Newman were all confirmed today in this year’s line-up.
The festival, which already attracts a 200,000-strong crowd each year, is now set to attract a whole new audience with a major comic book and graphic novel strand, Stripped, which will see an exhibition of comic art and a mini comic-fair arrive at the tented village on Charlotte Square.
Glasgow-born superhero icon Grant Morrison and iconic graphic novelist Neil Gaiman top the bill along with rising stars from the genres, including Kieron Gillen, Robbie Morrison while Glasgow crime writer Denise Mina will speak about her own graphic treatment of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and a new graphic novel the book festival has commissioned from her.
The festival is also launching a new music strand, which Peter Hook and John Taylor will be headlining, with other events including the launch of a book about Fife’s celebrated “Fence Collective” scene and record label.
The Charlatans’ frontman Tim Burgess, Everything But The Girl singer Tracy Thorn and Cerys Matthews will also be swapping the stage for in-conversation events in Charlotte Square.
A string of big-name authors from the three decades of the festival will be returning to the event, including Roddy Doyle, Melvyn Bragg, Antonia Fraser, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie.
Scotland’s national poet, Liz Lochhead, will be exploring how Scottish culture has altered over the last 30 years, while the special tribute event devoted to the late Iain Banks will feature fellow Fifers Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, as well as one of his closest friends, the sci-fi writer Ken Macleod.
The evolution of Scotland’s political landscape will be tackled by West Lothian’s long-running MP Tam Dalyell, eight years after he stood down from the House of Commons.
But politicians will be deliberately banished from the panels for two centrepiece debates on the nation’s political destiny, to be chaired by broadcaster Kirsty Wark and Iain Macwhirter, the journalist behind the new book and TV series “Road to Referendum.”
Major political figures speaking include Jack Straw, Alan Johnson and Ann Widdecombe, while there are a number of events looking at the legacy of the late Margaret Thatcher, as well a talk by Nate Silver, the American political forecaster, who famously correctly predicted the outcome of all 50 states in the US presidential elections last year.
From the world of broadcasting, Andrew Marr will be making his first public appearance since suffering a stroke.
Other expected hot tickets include Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as rising stars of the international literary scene, Australian Hannah Kent, New Zealander Eleanor Catton and Rachel Kushner, from the US.
One of the main draws in the children’s section will be a 75th birthday party for The Beano comic, hosted by Scottish publishers DC Thomson.
Tickets for this year’s book festival, which features more than 700 events, go on sale to the general public on 28 June.
Festival director Nick Barley said: “This is not just a birthday, but a celebration of an extraordinary generation of talent.
“The explosion of Scottish culture over the last 30 years has reverberated around the world and our writers, artists and performers have influenced all aspects of our lives.
“While we have prematurely lost one of our greatest authors, we must also celebrate the next generation of writers who are distilling the world around us.”