THIS week, Bookworm introduces us to some alternatives to Edinburgh’s Book Festival.
Today the world’s biggest book festival finally gets underway in Edinburgh. While this is entirely wonderful, the only trouble with being the world’s biggest anything is that everything remotely similar tends to get overshadowed. So, looking away from Charlotte Square, what else should be on the booklover’s horizons?
The Edinburgh book festival fringe (until 24 August), for starters. Jim Kelman opened it last night, and if you want to hear China Mieville, Russell Kane, Ron Butlin, Tom Leonard, Rajah Shehadeh and a whole lot more, get along to Scotland’s only radical bookshop, Word Power Books(43-5 West Nicholson Street) or check out their programme. As admission is free, you have more money left to spend on the books.
What else? Next weekend, go down to the Borders, Books and Bikes festival at Traquair House. Make a day of it too (tickets £25, individual events £9): that’s what I did last year, and it was a wonderful not just to get away from Edinburgh’s festival frenzy but to hear some very special people indeed – like Marie Colvin, who was tragically killed in Syria six months later.
What is special about Traquair isn’t just its history and friendliness: it’s that here you can find yourself listening to people who might not always have a book to flog but who might actually know more about their subject than people who have.
Take Roelf Meyer. As South African defence minister under de Klerk, he made the intellectual journey from supporting apartheid to freeing Mandela (he is now working with the ANC government). He is talking to Paul van Zyl, former secretary of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in a session chaired by Alan Little.
Or take Libya. Last year, Lindsey Hilsuim’s Channel 4 broadcasts from the thick of the fighting were universally admired. At Traquair she appears with photographer Guy Martin, seriously wounded in Misrata when his colleague Tim Hetherington, co-director of the award-winning Afghan war documentary Restrepo, was killed.
Then there’s Valery Gergiev, the world’s most in-demand conductor, the man who convinced FIFA to let Russia host the 2018 World Cup. And Rajah Shehadeh (again, but this time with Mark Thomas). And William Dalrymple, James Meek, plays, films and more. Do yourself a favour and check out the programme on www.beyondbordersscotland.com
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
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Wind direction: North west