Books

Books

Jenni Murray: I was only journalist to silence Maggie Thatcher

Right, class. Who can tell me anything about the battle of Alcacer Quibir? You know the one. The Battle of the Three Kings, 1578? Where they all die? Biggest battle of the century in Africa? Changed Europe? That one.

Edinburgh festivals
Spoken word review: Stuart Maconie: Jarrow Road To The Deep South

Spoken word review: Stuart Maconie: Jarrow Road To The Deep South

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: In the autumn of 1936, 200 men from Jarrow in Tyneside, accompanied by their MP “Red” Ellen Wilkinson, walked the length of England to Westminster to present a petition requesting a new steelworks in their economically devastated town.

Edinburgh festivals
Hanif Kureishi finds writing more pleasurable now he's 'free of the engine of ambition'. Picture: Gary Doak

Hanif Kureishi: A life that’s stranger than fiction

Many outstanding writers of fiction pass through Charlotte Square in the second half of August, but sometimes the most remarkable stories to surface at the Book Festival are the ones which are entirely true.

Edinburgh festivals
Henry Marsh wants an admission something needs to be done. Picture: Contributed

Former neurosurgeon author wants answers on state of NHS

Tomorrow morning, semi-retired neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, author of the best-selling Do No Harm, sits down for a one-on-one chat with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. On the basis of his book festival event, it should be an interesting meeting.

Edinburgh festivals
US author Nicole Krauss. Picture: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

Book review: Forest Dark, by Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss’ complex tale of the intertwined lives of a young novelist and an an older lawyer falls far short of her dazzling reputation

Books
Darren McGarvey is taking his place at the Edinburgh Book Festival this year. Picture: Toby Williams

Darren McGarvey: Determination trumps self-loathing - and dirty nappies

Scottish author and broadcaster Denise Mina, when asked for advice by an aspiring writer, struggling to complete their first novel, dispensed her formidable wisdom with characteristic candour, in the bluntest possible terms: “Just write your f****** book.” At the risk of appearing insensitive, to those writers of a fragile disposition, Mina’s frankness, painful in its simplicity, instantly demystified the process. Mina’s no-nonsense advice, which may not have been what that particular writer was looking for, was, thankfully, exactly what I needed to hear and soon became a beautifully practical mantra to which I’d find myself returning, as I embarked on the self-imposed hell of my first book.

Opinion
Author Louise Welsh. Picture: Contributed

Louise Welsh interview: What happens after the apocalypse?

From the window of Louise Welsh’s top floor flat on a sunny July morning, the city of Glasgow looks calm and pleasant, very nearly a dear green place.

Edinburgh festivals
Michael Keating spoke about the absence of a conversation which goes beyond yes/no. Picture: Stuart Cobley

Michael Keating and Gerry Hassan on Scottish independence post-Brexit

As Big Ben fell silent for repairs yesterday, a discussion kicked off at the Book Festival about how the Scottish independence debate has shifted in the light of Brexit and the June General Election.

Edinburgh festivals
Author Ali Smith. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Seasonal stories for our separated times

LAST year, at the Book Festival, the wonderful Ali Smith announced she planned to write a quartet of novels following the seasons, responding as immediately as possible to current events. Smith always makes an ideal festival guest: clever, illuminating, surprising.

Edinburgh festivals

Interview: Limmy on being a dad and his Overwatch addiction

Fresh off the commute from Glasgow, Brian Limond, aka Limmy gets in one question before we begin our interview.

Edinburgh festivals
Karl Ove Knausgaard will be appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: David Hartley/Rex

Stuart Kelly: Knausgaard’s latest work opens a can of worms

In nearly 20 years of reviewing I do not think I have read a work as supremely preposterous as (obligatory reference) the bestselling author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s new work, Autumn. I say to date advisedly, as we are threatened with three more volumes of this.

Edinburgh festivals
Crime writer Lin Anderson

Author Lin Anderson talks about her latest release

Former McIlvanney Prize nominee Lin Anderson takes Dr Rhona MacLeod out of her comfort zone literally as well as metaphorically in this latest book to feature the forensic scientist, with a trip to the heights of the Cairngorms in the depths of winter.

News
Denise Mina tells the story of serial killer Peter Manuel. Picture: contributed

Book Festival: Scots authors ponder the borders between fact and fiction

TWO fine Scottish writers pondered the questionable borderlands between fact and fiction at the Book Festival on Thursday evening.

Edinburgh festivals
From left, Heather McDaid, Elif Shafak and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

Book Festival: Elif Shafak and Nicola Sturgeon on speaking from the heart

TOP Turkish novelist Elif Shafak is one of the guest programmers at this year’s Book Festival. Introducing her event about women in public life on Friday morning, she spoke of a need for “new narratives, people who give us hope and vision, a better approach that depends not only on the mind but the heart: we need more women to express their opinions”.

Edinburgh festivals
Siri Hustvedt - feminist critic, thinker and novelist - believes truth is less certain than we think. Picture: Greg Macvean

Siri Hustvedt believes truth is less certain than we think

Until 7 November, said Howard Jacobson, he had never written out of anger. Envy yes – that was what got him going in the first place, being envious of other people who had written books – and these days he has added “ignominy, old age, and shame” to his stock fictional territory.

Edinburgh festivals
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable was thoughtful and bluster-free.

Vince Cable proud of his new novel

Shortly after losing his seat in the 2015 general election, Vince Cable started writing a novel.

Edinburgh festivals
Stuart Maconie promises he won't be taklking at us like an OJ lecturer. Picture: Contributed

Interview with the man who made Britpop

Stuart Maconie, the man responsible for coining the term Britpop – or at least for being the first to apply it to the mid-90s indie explosion spearheaded by Blur and Oasis – is probably best known for his radio double act with Mark Radcliffe, disseminating a comforting presence and great music taste for the past ten years, firstly on BBC Radio 2 and now on 6 Music.

Edinburgh festivals
Lars Mytting's novel The Sixteen Trees of the Somme will make you see walnut trees in a new light

Book review: The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, by Lars Mytting

A saga stretching from Norway to Scotland has ingrained appeal, writes Roger Cox

Books
Roy Hattersley. Picture: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images

Age hasn’t lessened Roy Hattersley’s ability to enthral

Roy Hattersley is 85 now, and age is catching up with him. He is, he said, at that time of life when he begins to wonder what’s next, even though as an atheist he is sure: nothing.

Edinburgh festivals
Omar Robert Hamilton 's debut novel mirrors his real-life role filming Egypt's failed revolution. Picture: Sam Waxman

Omar Robert Hamilton discusses his ‘terrifying’ first novel

Over three years during Egypt’s Arab Spring protests, Omar Robert Hamilton set up and ran the media collective, Mosireen (the name is a play on “determined” and “Egypt”), making YouTube videos chronicling the protests in an antidote to state television’s take on events.

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