Book Festival is at the cutting edge with Vidal

HAIRDRESSER Vidal Sassoon, veteran politician Roy Hattersley and presenter Nicholas Parsons are among the more unusual names set to feature at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival. The programme for the festival, which was unveiled this morning, also includes the likes of children's author Philip Pullman and Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and José Saramago as well as Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre.

In total, more than 750 authors from 50 different countries will be appearing at Charlotte Square this August.

Vidal Sassoon, 82, will talk about his new book, while acclaimed American authors Joyce Carol Oates and Lionel Shriver will discuss the United States' place in the modern world.

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Nick Barley, director of the festival, said: "Away from the barrage of instant news, writers give a more subtle perspective on everything from complex economic problems to personal issues in our day-to-day lives.

"The Book Festival gives us a wonderful opportunity to bring these perspectives into focus as we look at the world we live in today."

Opening on 14 August, the festival kicks off with Philip Pullman debating his re-imagined story of Christianity, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, with Richard Harries, formerly Bishop of Oxford and dean of Kings' College London.

Other appearances include Candia McWilliam, Fay Weldon, Lydia Davis, poet Seamus Heaney and DBC Pierre, who won the Booker for his novel Vernon God Little.

The Book Festival also moves into new ways of engaging with literature with a mini-festival entitled Unbound.

A mix of readings, music, performance and what it bills "a healthy dose of the unexpected", Unbound will take place every evening in the Highland Park Spiegeltent. Admission to Unbound will be free and its events are unticketed.

Tickets for Book Festival events will go on sale at 8.30am on Saturday 26 June online at, and via telephone on 0845 373 5888.