Leader comment: Edinburgh International Festival line-up is stellar

Jim Broadbent (Picture: Corbis via Getty)
Jim Broadbent (Picture: Corbis via Getty)
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Edinburgh International Book Festival has sometimes been criticised for going for names designed to draw a crowd, rather than important authors.

But this year’s programme will see discussion of some of the greatest issues of our times – along with some light entertainment.

Actress Rose McGowan, who helped start the global MeToo movement, will give a speech; writers will discuss the politics of Trump and Putin and more than 50 essayists will debate what freedom means. Gina Miller, who forced Theresa May to get approval for Brexit from parliament by taking the UK Government to the court, will discuss her fight for democratic oversight of the UK’s biggest decision since World War Two. No dumbing down there.

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Among the lighter offerings, Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson will read from his memoirs and the actor Jim Broadbent will unveil his first graphic novel.

For those seeking a more literary tone, the authors include Val McDermid, Ali Smith, AL Kennedy, Ian Rankin, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Philip Pullman.

Nick Barley, the director of the festival, should be commended for his approach. A book festival should not be a dusty, dry event. It should be, as he said, about “public discourse ... a space for grassroots democracy, for us to think through why the world is the way it is”.