Festival of words and wonder fills College of Art

University students, staff and alumni are joining a line-up of inspirational events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to celebrate the power of sharing stories and ideas.

This year’s vibrant programme builds on the hybrid format developed over the past two years, with many of the live, in-person events available to stream online.

The Festival – which runs from 13-29 August – is returning to the University’s Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) for a second year. A new site layout will accommodate more events and audiences.

People sit on a bench outdoors next to a giant pile of books at Edinburgh International Book Festival

Organisers say the programme of 600 events, featuring more than 550 writers, artists and thinkers from around the world, will provide audiences with adventures, insights, personal stories and new perspectives.

Most Book Festival authors and artists are appearing on stage, in-person. For the few who are taking part remotely from wherever they are in the world, audiences will watch them on a screen in the venue.

Campus events

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

Tickets for in-person events are on sale from the Book Festival website.

Visitors to ECA will also be welcomed to the August Graduate Show from 19 – 26 August which will celebrate and showcase the work of post-graduate students of Art, Design and Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

This year, the show takes place in the Main Building and Evolution House where visitors can to discover and explore the work of the next generation of creative talent.

Fresh perspectives

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

Acclaimed Scottish writer Jenni Fagan – an alumna and former writer in residence at the University – leads a discussion on her latest novella Hex, a retelling of the true story of Geillis Duncan – one of the first women accused in the North Berwick Witch Trials.

The event – chaired by author and broadcaster Sally Magnusson – is being supported by genderED, the University’s interdisciplinary hub for the study of gender and sexualities.

A panel discussion involving prominent writers and campaigners, supported by the University’s Binks Hub, will consider how people can effect change when faced with injustice. 

Food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, author and broadcaster Jeffrey Boakye, who has written extensively on education, race and masculinity and scholar Stewart Lansley, an expert in inequality, wealth and poverty will take part in the event chaired by Heather Parry of the Society of Authors’ and co-founder of Extra Teeth literary magazine.

The Binks Hub – a collaboration between the University’s Edinburgh Futures Institute, School of Social and Political Science and the School of Health in Social Science – is an initiative that develops arts and creative projects to promote social justice in communities.

Acclaimed authors

Abdulrazak Gurnah – winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature – discusses his latest novel, Afterlives, with Fiammetta Rocco, Senior Editor and Culture Correspondent at The Economist.

The event is supported by the University’s Centre of African Studies.

Award-winning writer Pankaj Mishra’s long-awaited second novel, Run and Hide – a story based around the cultural and political trajectory of modern India – will be in the spotlight at an unmissable event sponsored by the University’s Centre for South Asian Studies.

The University’s Centre for Open Learning is sponsoring an event with acclaimed Leith author Irvine Welsh. The writer will discuss his new novel The Long Knives with poet Michael Pedersen.

Glittering awards

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 will see the nominated authors 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

Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health at Edinburgh, will share her insights into responses to Covid-19 at the Book Festival.

The event will discuss what lessons we can learn, and how this should shape our future policies, in the context of her new book Preventable: How a Pandemic Changed the World & How to Stop the Next One.

Edinburgh Paleontologist Professor Steve Brusatte will talk about our planet’s history with evolutionary biologist and palaeontologist Thomas Halliday at an event chaired by Geographer Royal for Scotland Professor Jo Sharp.

Professor Brusatte will also be sharing stories from his recently published children’s book written with his wife Anne to inspire a new generation of young dinosaur fans.

Future festivals

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is hosted at the Edinburgh College of Art as part of a long-term partnership between the Festival and the University of Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival recently announced that it will be in residence at the University for the foreseeable future.

The Festival is at Edinburgh College of Art this year and next, before moving to the Edinburgh Futures Institute – the site of the former Royal Infirmary – in 2024.

The Book Festival moved to Edinburgh College of Art last year, the first time it had taken place at a venue other than Charlotte Square Gardens since its creation in 1983. This year’s events will be complemented by the use of Central Hall in Tollcross.

Warm welcome

We are delighted to welcome the Edinburgh International Book Festival to Edinburgh College of Art for a second time. The sharing of bold ideas is a cornerstone of our work at ECA and we are delighted to open the doors to this vibrant programme of in-person and streamed events for people in Edinburgh, and from all over the world.

Professor Juan CruzPrincipal, Edinburgh College of Art 

We’ve learned a great deal in the last two years, so that alongside the return of our full-scale in-person festival we can also offer the accessibility and international reach of live-streamed events. The world has changed immeasurably since 2019: we’re learning to live with the effects of the pandemic and war in Europe – but we’re also beginning to imagine what a better future should look like. Exploring these issues in inspiring conversations with scientists, historians, poets and novelists is exactly where the Book Festival comes into its own.

Nick BarleyDirector, Edinburgh International Book Festival

Related links 

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Jenni Fagan: 'Geillis Duncan Has a Broomstick'

Abdulrazak Gurnah: Migration, the Story of Our Times

Jeffrey Boakye, Stewart Lansley & Jack Monroe: Where Do We Go From Here?

Pankaj Mishra: The Personal is Always Political

Irvine Welsh Crime and Punishment

James Tait Black Prizes

Devi Sridhar – How to Prevent (Another) Pandemic

Steve Brusatte & Thomas Halliday: The Paleo-Adventurers

Image credit - Edinburgh International Book Festival