Edinburgh book festival announces Iain Banks event

Iain Banks had been hoping to read from his final book at this year's literary festival. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Iain Banks had been hoping to read from his final book at this year's literary festival. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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ORGANISERS of the Edinburgh International Book Festival have unveiled plans for a special event in honour of Iain Banks.

A celebration of the writer’s vast canon of work was already being planned in the wake of the 59-year-old announcing he was terminally ill.

Fife-born Banks had even been hoping to read from his final book, The Quarry, at the annual literary celebration.

Festival director Nick Barley pledged the festival would now ensure the event would “raise the bloody roof” of its main theatre venue in Charlotte Square.

Full details of the event - due to be held on the penultimate day of this year’s festival, on Sunday 25 August, will be announced when the full programme is unveiled later this month.

Banks, who died on Sunday just two months after revealing he had gall bladder cancer, had made regular visits to the festival and tickets for his events were among the most sought-after by the festival’s regulars.

Mr Barley said: “I was deeply saddened to learn of Iain Banks’ death.

“Not only has the book festival lost one of its dearest friends, but the world has lost a quiet literary giant. From The Wasp Factory onwards, Iain’s books have been at the heart of a Scottish literary renaissance that has revolutionised this country’s understanding of itself.

“At the same time, Iain was a pioneer of a kind of writing that rendered literary genres increasingly unimportant. Above all, Iain was always down to earth; always one of us.

“Asked whether he could join a celebration of his work at the Book Festival this August, Iain responded ‘I’d bloody love to’, and he was sincerely hoping to be well enough to read from his last book, The Quarry.

“I deeply regret that he couldn’t be with us long enough to have a final meeting with his loyal audience in our main theatre.

“But we will make certain of one thing: in Iain Banks’ name and in celebration of his thrawn, maverick, independent spirit, this August we will raise the bloody roof.”

Meanwhile Banks’ close friend and fellow author Ian Rankin has described him as a writing machine whose best years may still have been ahead of him.

He said: “He does leave behind a substantial body of work. He was 59. Who knows, his best years may still have been ahead of him.

“Writers tend to go on to their 70s and 80s and beyond, they don’t stop writing.

“In some ways he was a machine, he was doing a book a year - a sci-fi novel, then a straight novel, then a sci-fi novel.

“The writing still excited him, the ideas still excited him, there was no shortage of ideas, he wasn’t coming to the end of his time as a writer.”

Rankin, who last saw Banks in one of his favourite Edinburgh pubs several weeks ago - praised Banks’ versatility as an author.

“I think he absolutely loved that he could straddle both worlds because not many writers can do that successfully.

“He could go off to science fiction conventions, he could go to comic

shops and sign for people who were very excited to meet him and talk about this world that he created, this culture he created.

“But he could also go to traditional bookshops and talk to audiences, go to literary festivals, and he loved that he could do both of those.”


Iain Banks: A legacy to treasure

Obituary: Iain Banks, author

Book review: The Quarry, Iain Banks

Andrew Eaton-Lewis: The reading that blew my teenage mind all began with Iain Banks

Iain Banks marries in his favourite place