Books & Literature
Chris Brookmyre and wife Marisa Haetzman, two very different types of writers, have produced a novel with the best of both of them in it. PICTURE: JOHN DEVLIN

Books interview: Ambrose Parry (aka Marisa Haetzman and Chris Brookmyre)

Indulge me for a moment. It’s Edinburgh, 2020, and the tourists flying in from America, Australia and everywhere else Sky Atlantic sold the first series of The Way of All Flesh know exactly what they want to see. The Castle, obviously, Holyrood Palace if there’s time. First, though, they’ll want to check out 52 Queen Street. It doesn’t matter how many times they’re told it’s not open to the public, they still want to see it.

Edinburgh festivals
Jane Harris

Book festival round-up: Tania Kovats | Steve Trent | Barbie Latza Nadeau | Donal Ryan | Jackie Kay | Kamila Shamsie

Visual artist Tania Kovats is one of the Guest Selectors at this year’s Book Festival, curating a mini-programme of five events on the theme of the sea. Kovats’s own work has focused, for a decade, on the oceans, and what began as a “personal, psychological and poetic” interest has broadened to an awareness of the sea as a locus for global, enviromental and humanitarian crisis.

Edinburgh festivals
Yanis Varoufakis emphasised winning over the Right's voters. Picture: Edinburgh Book Festival

Edinburgh Book Festival: Our democracy is not what it once was

Economist Yanis Varoufakis, who served briefly as finance minister in the Greek government in 2015, is one of this year’s Guest Selectors at the Book Festival, programming four events on the theme of “Killing Democracy?” On Sunday evening, in an interview with Ruth Wishart, he offered his personal thoughts on its demise, and its possible resurrection.

Edinburgh festivals 1
Sir Tom Devine PIC: Greg Macvean

Book review: New Scots: Scotland’s Immigrant Communities since 1945, by TM Devine and Angela McCarthy (eds)

In most parts of the world, the idea of ethnic purity is a myth or an illusion. This is certainly the case in Europe. Few can trace their family tree more than a few generations back, but even this limited span is likely to reveal an immigrant or foreign-born ancestor or two. All European nations are mongrels. The early mediaeval Kingdom of Scotland was peopled by Picts, Scots, Britons (or Welsh) and Angles. In the 12th and 13th centuries Norman-French and Breton immigrants came to form a new governing class south of the Highland Line. An English chronicler then declared that the recent kings of Scotland “professed themselves to be Frenchmen”. Later immigrants were Flemings from Flanders, Norsemen from Scandinavia, and of course Englishmen. The 19th and early 20th century saw large-scale immigration from Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant. Meanwhile Scots emigrated – to England, the Americas, and what used to be called the White Dominions. Douglas Young, professor of Greek, poet and early member of the SNP used to claim there were more than 20 million Scots in the world.

Edinburgh festivals
Claire Askew

Book review: All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

All the Hidden Truths is a timely book, told from the points of view of three Edinburgh women. DI Helen Birch, in her first day following a promotion, starts to get reports of a shooting at a fictional city college. Two mothers of students, Ishbel Hodgekiss, who argued with her 19-year-old daughter the night before and Moira Summers, whose son Ryan has become increasingly distant since the death of his father, are first made aware of the incident by sirens, Twitter reports and patchy news coverage as the event unfolds. What happens is told through their eyes, supplemented by sensationalist tabloid reports, hysterical commentary on social media and transcripts of police interviews with survivors and families.

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