If you’re in Edinburgh this August, you should check out the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme as there are some great events this year.
Just so you don’t have to, I’ve gone through the programme and have pasted below all the events* with LGBT authors and/or about books that talk about sexuality and gender identity. I’m going to a bunch and will try to take notes to post here in case you can’t make it to Edinburgh!
Here is the festival website: https://www.edbookfest.co.uk
The tickets go on sale on 21st June at 8.30am so you still have time to decide which events to go to! The events are ordered by dates. I have pasted the prices below, one is the full price and the other is the concession price.
*I’m sure I’ve missed some so this is just a non-exhaustive list!
Sat 13 Aug 11:45am – 12:45pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
MAKING WORDS MAKE SENSE
The Baillie Gifford Main Theatre programme explodes into life with one of Britain’s best-respected writers. Ali Smith is enjoying a richly productive period: since How to be Both, she’s published a collection of gimlet-eyed essays, Public Library, and will soon unveil the first in a quartet of standalone-but-linked novels. Today, she discusses her latest work.
CLAIRE ASKEW & HELEN MORT
Sat 13 Aug 6:30pm – 7:30pm – Writers’ Retreat – £8.00, £6.00
Two award-winning young poets give voice to women doing extraordinary things. Claire Askew’s collection This Changes Things asks us to empathise with marginalised women while accepting the impossibility of putting ourselves in their shoes. Inspired by Victorian Alpine climber Jemima Morrell, Helen Mort’s ambitious No Map Could Show Them includes the breathtaking ‘Black Rocks’, dedicated to British climber Alison Hargreaves, who died on K2.
Sat 13 Aug 8:15pm – 9:15pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
STREAM OF CONSCIENCE
One of the highlights of last year’s Festival was Kate Tempest’s trance-like, incantatory performance of her poetry. This year, the playwright-rapper-poet has extended her narrative voice once again, with a novel that explores the dreams, memories and everyday lives of a cast of characters living in London. The Bricks that Built the Houses is an electrifying debut from a rising star of British literature.
ZAFFAR KUNIAL WITH JACKIE KAY
Mon 15 Aug 3:15pm – 4:15pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
BETWEEN THE DEE AND THE DON
What does it mean to be a British writer of mixed heritage in the 21st century? Jackie Kay was born to a Scottish mother and Nigerian father, while Zaffar Kunial was born to an English mother and a Kashmiri father. Kunial, whose first collection of verse was published in 2014, draws heavily on his rich Anglo-Asian cultural heritage, and writes of ‘the legacy of exchanging words across the centuries’.
STEVE SEM-SANDBERG & SJÓN
Wed 17 Aug 10:15am – 11:15am – The Spiegeltent – £12.00, £10.00
EUROPE’S LITERARY SUPERSTARS
Meet two of Europe’s most talented novelists. Swedish writer Steve Sem-Sandberg’s The Chosen Ones follows his towering novel The Emperor of Lies in describing brutality and tenderness in the Nazi era – this time in a home for sick children in Vienna. Icelandic novelist Sjón’s highly anticipated Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is a moving depiction of a young gay man’s experience in 1918 Iceland. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.
CAROL ANN DUFFY WITH JACKIE KAY
Wed 17 Aug 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
A DIALOGUE IN POEMS
Where else but in Edinburgh could the Poet Laureate meet her Makar? Two of the most important figures in British poetry today, Carol Ann Duffy and Scotland’s new Makar Jackie Kay share unique poetic dialogue. Both raised in Glasgow and now each living in Manchester, they appear on stage together for the first time at the Festival, with accompaniment from Edinburgh-based musician John Sampson.
OPEN BOOK ON THE POETRY AND FICTION OF JACKIE KAY
Thu 18 Aug 11:00am – 12:30pm – Writers’ Retreat – £15.00, £12.00
Marjorie Lotfi Gill and Claire Urquhart from Open Book, a charity that organises shared reading groups, look at the poetry and fiction of new Scottish Makar Jackie Kay. Kay’s work is broad, exploring issues of cultural and sexual identity informed by her own experiences. Expect an open discussion from the start: you can either read Kay’s work ahead of the event or be inspired to pick it up afterwards.
GILLIAN CLARKE & CAROL ANN DUFFY
Thu 18 Aug 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
NATIONAL POETS, PERSONAL POETRY
For their first time on stage together at the Book Festival, National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy present their recently published collections of poems. The words of these two exceptional writers has shaped the poetic landscape of the past four decades. From the deeply personal to the fiercely political, their poetry has offered inspiration, understanding, solace and insight.
JENNI FAGAN & ANDREW MCMILLAN
Fri 19 Aug 7:00pm – 8:00pm – The Spiegeltent – £8.00, £6.00
UNFLINCHING, SENSUAL POETRY
In the wake of her rapturously received debut novel, The Panopticon, Edinburgh-based Jenni Fagan presents The Dead Queen of Bohemia, a new collection of poems from across her career. Andrew McMillan’s debut poetry collection, Physical, won last year’s Guardian First Book Award and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His work has been described by fellow poet Helen Mort as ‘alive with subtle reflections on masculinity.’
Sat 20 Aug 5:45pm – 6:45pm – Garden Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
IN PRAISE OF GENDER FLUIDITY
Transgender experiences have become a great identity issue of our times and Juliet Jacques is a major chronicler of various kinds of trans-identification – her A Transgender Journey column in the Guardian was longlisted for the Orwell Prize. In this event, she discusses the powerful account of her life in Trans: A Memoir, as well as her campaign to overcome intolerance, even within the liberal and feminist media.
Sat 20 Aug 8:15pm – 9:15pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
THE WINTER’S TALE IN DISGUISE
400 years since Shakespeare’s death, Jeanette Winterson brilliantly articulates The Gap of Time – her ‘cover version’ of The Winter’s Tale. A deeply personal reworking of the story of Perdita, the abandoned child, Winterson’s modern novel shifts between London and a US city named New Bohemia. The author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit discusses the challenges of reframing the Bard’s work in the 21st century.
CAT CLARKE & LISA WILLIAMSON: FINDING OURSELVES
Sun 21 Aug 3:45pm – 4:45pm – Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre – £5.00
We can’t choose our families, so what happens when we feel totally out of step with them? In Cat Clarke’s The Lost and the Found, Laurel reappears 13 years after her abduction. But her sister is unconvinced. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson tells the tale of David, who longs to be a girl. How do you tell your family that? Two gripping stories of identity and how much the truth can hurt.
Sun 21 Aug 9:45pm – 10:45pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
BAKED TO IMPERFECTION
Life hasn’t all been cakes and ale for the Great British Bake Off co-presenter Sue Perkins. In her memoir Spectacles, the hugely popular comedian draws acres of charm and even hilarity out of a life of emotional challenges. Some revealing moments, like meeting Mel Giedroyc’s first baby or the death of her beagle, are profoundly moving indeed. She talks to Viv Groskop.
JENNY DOWNHAM: UNSPEAKABLE TRUTHS
Mon 22 Aug 5:15pm – 6:15pm – Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab – £5.00
Jenny Downham’s first book, the multi award-winning Before I Die, became an international bestseller and spawned the major Hollywood movie Now is Good, starring Dakota Fanning. Now Jenny returns to explore issues of identity and unspeakable truths in her brilliantly powerful third novel, Unbecoming. Come along to find out more about this tender, funny, life-affirming piece of storytelling.
Mon 22 Aug 8:15pm – 9:15pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
STAR WRITER RETURNS TO THE DARK SIDE
Crime-writing Fifer Val McDermid has had a busy year so far, having found a cameo role for the First Minister in a play she penned for Radio 4 and campaigning hard to save an award-winning Orkney mobile library. Now she’s back on familiar ground as she launches another of the gripping, spine-tingling bestsellers that have turned her into one of Britain’s hottest thriller writers.
Tue 23 Aug 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
DEPRESSION AND HOW TO LAUGH IT OFF
‘Nothing makes me happier than talking about depression,’ says Glasgow-based comedian Susan Calman. Despite being one of Britain’s funniest women, Calman has lived with what she calls ‘the crab of hate’ whispering in her ear for as long as she can remember. Now she’s written Cheer Up Love, a book full of stories, humour and serious ideas about coping with the black dog.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IMPRISONED WRITERS SERIES
Thu 25 Aug 5:30pm – 6:15pm – Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre – FREE: Tickets available from the Box Office on the day of the event
THE END OF GENDER
As Scotland potentially passes some of the most progressive laws on gender identity in the world, the visibility of trans issues has never been higher but is this ‘trans moment’ being felt elsewhere? In this event, we hear the work of authors writing about the persecution of people who challenge gender norms. Reading today: Juno Dawson, Cara Ellison, Jenni Fagan and Madeleine Thien.
JENNI FAGAN & SARA TAYLOR
Thu 25 Aug 8:30pm – 9:30pm – Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre – £8.00, £6.00
IN SEARCH OF EACH OTHER
Meet two young writers who’ve arrived fully-formed and ferociously talented. Jenni Fagan’s second novel, The Sunlight Pilgrims, is set in a near-future Scotland where climate change is threatening everything, and Constance is helping daughter Stella navigate profound personal changes. Meanwhile, Sara Taylor’s sophomore novel The Lauras is an enigmatic American road trip in which a mother and daughter seek to put unfinished business to rest.
JUNO DAWSON & ROSALIND JANA: MINDFUL TEENS
Fri 26 Aug 7:00pm – 8:00pm – The Spiegeltent – £5.00
Juno Dawson’s Mind Your Head is a brilliantly accessible, frank and funny look at issues such as depression, self harm and anxiety. Blogger and writer Rosalind Jana’s Notes on Being Teenage takes a positive look at building your own identity and coping with family, friendships, online life and love. Be enlightened, informed and reassured in this event exploring the pressing issues affecting young people today.
Sat 27 Aug 5:45pm – 6:45pm – Garden Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
STORIES FROM IRELAND
This multi award-winning, internationally bestselling Dublin-based novelist is perhaps best known for a book loved equally by adults and children, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. John Boyne’s latest is Beneath the Earth, a book of surprising, beautiful and enthralling stories that add up to some of his finest writing yet. He’s one of Ireland’s most talented writers and he’s on top form.
Sat 27 Aug 6:45pm – 7:45pm – Baillie Gifford Main Theatre – £12.00, £10.00
TRUE LIFE MISADVENTURES
Dividing his time between New York and Hollywood, one of our best-kent Scottish actors has found himself at the centre of an impressive collection of scenes, scrapes and scraps in the world of showbiz. Alan Cumming has now gathered some of his best anecdotes and personal photographs into a charmingly cheeky book, You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams. Talking to Sarfraz Manzoor, he recounts some of his hysterical, riotous favourites.
LOVE SONG TO LAVENDER MENACE
Sat 27 Aug 7:30pm – 9:00pm – Garden Theatre – £15.00, £12.00
PLAYING BETWEEN THE COVERS
With two actors, playwright James Ley dramatically tells the story of Edinburgh’s radical LGBT bookshops, which beautifully takes us through the history and the lives of the people involved. The scene is set: it’s 1987 and Edinburgh’s gay bookshop is celebrating its fifth birthday. Hear about the love and passion it takes to make something extraordinary happen. James Ley and the cast follow with a discussion on the past, present and future of LGBT writing and how books really do change lives. They are joined by American author Garth Greenwell, whose debut novel What Belongs to You has been described as ‘the great gay novel of our times’.
Sun 28 Aug 6:30pm – 7:30pm – Writers’ Retreat – £8.00, £6.00
CRUISING FOR SELF-DISCOVERY
In Bulgaria after communism, personal freedom is improving but homosexual love remains a cultural taboo. This is the setting for What Belongs to You, Garth Greenwell’s novel about the life of a young American man in search of love, sex and ‘helpless desire’. Powerful and richly characterised, the book has been hailed as ‘the great gay novel of our times’ (New Republic), and ‘an instant classic’ (New York Times).
GARTH GREENWELL ON GIOVANNI’S ROOM
Mon 29 Aug 11:00am – 12:30pm – Writers’ Retreat – £15.00, £12.00
American author Garth Greenwell explores Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. Just as Greenwell’s own debut novel What Belongs to You does, Baldwin’s 1956 work provides complex representations of homosexuality with empathy and artistry, thereby promoting a broader discussion on same-sex attraction. Expect an open discussion from the start: you can either read the book ahead of the event or be inspired to pick it up afterwards.
Which events are you most excited about?
I hope to see you there!