Books

Books & Literature

Richard Ford brings Edinburgh International Book Festival to a close

The lorries came for the book festival’s George Street tents yesterday morning; they’ll arrive to start taking down the ones in Charlotte Square at about five o’clock this afternoon. One thing about autumn melancholy in Edinburgh: you can always be chronologically precise about when it begins.

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie PIC: Neil Hanna Photography

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes waves at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Edinburgh being the city it is, standing ovations are rare even at its Book Festival, and handed out as sparingly as its university doles out honorary degrees. So when, at 10:45pm on Saturday night, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s audience stood to applaud her, at the end of a day on which she’d been made an honorary DLitt, it was a rare double indeed.

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Robert Webb's memoir isn't the run-of-the-mill celebrity Christmas cash-in

Book review: How Not To Be A Boy, by Robert Webb

Robert Webb makes people laugh. Along with David Mitchell, he formed one of the most successful English comedy double acts of recent times. The former Footlights member is best known for playing Jez, the likeable waster in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show, and for the rather patchier sketch show That Mitchell And Webb Look. They remain in demand – a new sitcom written by the duo is expected to premiere later this year.

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Robert McCrum 's series of essays examines our anxieties around ageing and dying

Book review: Every Third Thought, by Robert McCrum

There is a lovely Borders phrase, usually uttered when looking at the hatches, matches and despatches in a newspaper, or the announcements in a funeral director’s window: “There’s folks a-deein that hae never deed afore”.

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Ian Rankin reveals plans for Inspector Rebus stage play

Ian Rankin reveals plans for Inspector Rebus stage play

Crime author Ian Rankin has revealed that his famous Inspector Rebus character is being adapted for the stage.
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A C Grayling. Picture: Geraint Lewis/REX/Shutterstock

A C Grayling: Democracy is in crisis in the age of unreason

Democracy isn’t just in crisis, philosopher AC Grayling told the packed audience in the Main Tent.

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Karl-Ove Knausgard has shifted his literary focus. Picture: David Hartley/Rex

Knausgaard’s new book focuses on the present - not the past

Two writers, two events, two contrasting ways of pinning down the world, pruning its endless variety into recognisable form. And one question from the audience for both John Banville and Karl-Ove Knausgaard: how do you do what you do?

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Words spilll out of A. L. Kennedy, impossibly fast and more articulate than anyone has a right to expect. Picture: Gary Doak Photography

An audience with the ‘impossibly fast and articulate’ AL Kennedy

Someone in the audience asked AL Kennedy about voice, and how she managed to get the way her characters speak to themselves so right.

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Bashabi Fraser and Alan Riach edit the anthology, a mix of Scottish and South Asian poetry. Picture: Gary Doak Photography

Poets launch anthology of Scottish and South Asian Poetry

One of the things the Book Festival does so well is to provide a platform for conversations across borders and cultures. It played host to a multi-voiced throng of conversation yesterday morning, launching Thali Katori, An Anthology of Scottish and South Asian Poetry.

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Alan Johnson mastered five Cabinet briefs in six years. Picture: John Devlin

Alan Johnson: Theresa May is toast

Alan Johnson makes politics look easy. All you’ve got to be is normal, affable, at ease in front of crowds, with a neat line in self-deprecating charm and a surprising talent for mimicry, palpably decent and caring, and bright enough to master five Cabinet briefs in six years.

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Jenni Murray.  Picture: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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