Edinburgh College of Art welcomes Book Festival

University students, staff and alumni are joining a stellar line up that celebrates brilliant writing and bold ideas at Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Book Festival

More than 300 writers, artists and thinkers from around the world are coming together this August to share their stories in a programme of live online events. 

More than 250 events for adults, children and families are taking place in the Book Festival’s new home at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA).

All of the events – from Saturday 14 to Monday 30 August – are available to watch on a pay what you can basis. Many are in front of in-person socially distanced audiences. Information on how to book is available on the Book Festival website.

Different options

The Festival’s new base in Lauriston Place is hosting socially distanced events in two indoor spaces, and offering an outdoor experience that includes a café, play area, bookshop and a big screen showing some of the live events.

Around half of the speakers will appear in person in Edinburgh, while others will join digitally from locations around the world. Tickets for in-person events are on sale from the Book Festival website from noon on Thursday 22 July.  

The University is sponsoring five events in the programme and a number of students, staff and alumni are participating in talks.

The packed line-up of Book Festival events also includes the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme.

Acclaimed speakers

Bernardine Evaristo – who won the Booker Prize in 2019 for Girl, Woman, Other – leads a discussion championing the work of Black British writers.  

The author will interview three writers – Judith Bryan, S I Martin and Nicole Williams, whose books were first published in the 1990s.

The titles have been republished as part of a series entitled Black Britain: Writing Back.

The event is being presented in association with the Edinburgh Futures Institute, which supports data driven innovation in the creative industries, including publishing through Creative Informatics.   

Legacy explored

ECA-based German art expert Christian Weikop joins a panel exploring the legacy of an influential exhibition held as part of the 1970 Edinburgh Festival.

The show – called Strategy: Get Arts – was the first major exhibition of contemporary German art to be held in Britain since 1938.

Edinburgh arts patron Richard Demarco, working with the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, pulled off a major coup by bringing the work of Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and other now- revered artists from post-war Germany to ECA.

Fruitmarket Gallery Director Fiona Bradley chairs the event, which is held in association with ECA. It also features artist Alexander Hamilton, a former ECA student who was a Demarco Gallery assistant in 1970.

The panel will consider the enduring significance of the landmark exhibition, and discuss a new publication, Strategy: Get Arts – 35 Artists Who Broke the Rules, edited by Christian Weikop.

Many of the 1970 photographs that will be included in the book will be on display on the ECA café.

Inspiring change

Alicia Garza, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, is speaking at an event in association with RACE.ED a network that showcases teaching and research excellence in race and decolonial studies at the University of Edinburgh.

The live discussion – which Alicia Garza is attending remotely - will focus on a new book titled The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart.

Alicia Garza will share some of her insights and experience gained from spending two decades as a grassroots activist, inspiring others to make change happen.

Indian perspectives

The University’s Centre for South Asian Studies is sponsoring an event featuring the work of two Indian authors, Sonia Faleiro and Megha Majumdar.

Discussion focuses on two novels that shed light on a morally complex aspect of Indian life and politics. The authors are joining the event remotely, with viewers having the chance to present questions.

Sonia Faleiro’s The Good Girls – a deeply affecting account of events in rural India – is a searing analysis of family honour in the community.

Megha Majumdar’s debut novel, A Burning, is set in the city of Kolkata where a young Muslim woman is falsely accused of a terrorist attack in a railway station.

Prize perspectives

Author and broadcaster Sally Magnusson hosts a celebration of this year’s entries for the University’s James Tait Black Prizes – the UK’s longest-running literary awards.

The event gives the nominated authors an opportunity to discuss their books before the much-anticipated announcement of this year’s winners. Members of the judging panel, which includes Edinburgh literature students, will also share their thoughts.

The University has been running a MOOC in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival since 2017. The free online course – called How to Read a Novel – draws on the James Tait Black fiction shortlist.

Expert analysis

Professor Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health at Edinburgh, shares her insights into the political responses prompted by Covid-19.

The event examines how governments reacted to the virus and what steps political leaders might take to prepare for any future pandemics.

Elsewhere eminent historian Sir Tom Devine – an Edinburgh Emeritus Professor – joins broadcaster Allan Little for an event that examines Scotland’s sense of self from a historical perspective.

Allan Little, who is Book Festival Chair, sits on the Advisory Board of the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH).

Sir Tom also joins Ciaran Martin, a professor at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, for an event that weighs up future constitutional options for the UK.

Capital stories

Author Alexander McCall Smith – Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University – joins crime writer and alumnus Ian Rankin for the launch of a collection short stories linked to Edinburgh.

The event includes recent contributors to the collection Nadine Aisha Jassat, Sara Sheridan and Anne Hamilton.

The event is chaired by Lesley Hinds, founder of the OneCity Trust – a charity established in 2003 to support projects that tackle social injustice and inequality in Edinburgh.

Warm welcome

“We are delighted to welcome the Edinburgh International Book Festival to Edinburgh College of Art for the first time,” says College Principal Juan Cruz.

“This builds on our existing partnership and the new, deeper relationship will help to ensure that people in Edinburgh, and from all over the world, can enjoy this inspiring Festival together.

“The wonderful programme of events is a great opportunity to explore ideas from around the world and we are proud that so many of our colleagues are featuring in this stellar line-up.”

Thrilling prospect

Edinburgh International Book Festival Director Nick Barley says: “We are incredibly excited to produce our first ‘hybrid’ festival with authors and audiences joining us both in person and online.

“We welcome a mix of Scottish and international voices to discuss their ideas, hopes and dreams. There's plenty to see and discover in our packed programme.

“The Book Festival is for everyone – whether you are in a position to pay for a ticket or not, whether you join us in person or from your sofa. We are tremendously excited for people to join the conversation as we all move onwards and upwards and try to make sense of our changing world.”

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Cover image coutesy of  Edinburgh International Book Festival - Designed by the Book Festival’s Brand and Design Partner, Tangent