Books

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Letters Home

27 Aug 20143 stars

Four snapshot stories of exile at 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

Consisting of four short scenes and an unnecessary epilogue set 'backstage' where the actors turn back into civilians, Letters Home is surprisingly slight for a two hour flagship production at the Book Festival. Only Grid Iron's own Ben Harrison deals…

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera discusses Story of a Death Foretold at 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

29 Aug 20144 stars

Colombian historian delivers thrilling talk on Salvador Allende's last stand

In Story of a Death Foretold, Columbian historian Oscar Guardolia-Rivera chronicles the rise of Chile's socialist president Salvador Allende and the brutal CIA-supported coup which ousted him. In this electrifying hour, Guardolia-Rivera describes…

Peter Ross on his new book Daunderlust ahead of 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

17 Aug 2014

Scottish journalist talks about his storytelling style and hidden spots in Scotland

Five words to describe your storytelling style. Rather than high-five myself, I'll quote the reviews of my book: ‘Funny’; ‘Beautiful’; ‘Full of heart’. None of those were written by my mum, the landlord of my local, or anyone else who has cause to be…

Profile: Randall Munroe, xkcd creator and author of new science book What If?

19 Aug 2014

The former roboticist for NASA offers serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions

What is xkcd? A word which has no meaning, and which Munroe particularly likes because it has no actual phonetic pronunciation. It’s also his regular stick-figure web comic, in which a generation of geeks and science-literate readers are tickled by…

Kate Saunders - Five Children On The Western Front

11 Sep 20142 stars

A disappointing sequel to E Nesbitt's wonderful, immersive and humorous Five Children and It series

Five Children and It is the first of a much loved trilogy from writer E Nesbit about five children and the Psammead (sand fairy) who grants wishes. It has since been adapted for TV and film and has inspired various takes on the story including books by…

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Adam Roberts - Bête

11 Sep 20144 stars

Dryly funny sci-fi novel about food that can talk back to the eater

Imagine if your food could talk back to you? That’s the extremely high-concept opener much-decorated sci-fi author and academic Adam Roberts plays with in his latest novel, opening on a bizarre but starkly amusing sequence in which a cow tries to reason…

Flash Fiction: Aide Memoire by Mairi Campbell-Jack

11 Sep 2014

The newest instalment in our series of ultra-short stories

It was the third day this Emma – ‘Call me Em,’ – had visited. A whiff of smoke lingered after her in the vast antiseptic cleanliness of the ward, the rudely penetrating smell of bleach only just covering the stench of ill health. Emma always made the…

Kate Mosse - The Taxidermist’s Daughter

11 Sep 20144 stars

Subtle and seductive tale of murder and mystery from the Labyrinth author

The sodden marshes and thunderous skies of the small village of Fishbourne near Chichester – and Kate Mosse’s home – provide a suitably gloomy setting for the Labyrinth author’s new Gothic tale of murder and mystery. Mosse pulls that landscape in…

Wigtown Book Festival: 'half the fun is serendipity'

11 Sep 2014

Festival Director Adrian Turpin talks Lowland literature, film adaptations and £1 pot luck ticketing

Wigtown Book Festival, the ten-day celebration of books in Scotland’s National Book Town, kicks off its 16th edition this year on 26 September. One of the key 2014 themes is Lowlands, taking Wigtown’s Borders location as inspiration: ‘Scotland's so…

Samantha Harvey - Dear Thief

11 Sep 20143 stars

Exquisite writing and a poignant story fail to be truly exciting in the long run

The art of letter writing is almost lost, but it's a tool used by Dear Thief's narrator as some form of catharsis. ‘In answer to a question you asked a long time ago,’ she begins, moving off on a journey through friendship, love and betrayal. The…

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Interview: Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell on Twitter, mid-life crises and new novel The Bone Clocks

2 Sep 2014

'The temptation is to write versions of Cloud Atlas for the rest of my life – but not as good’

‘I like to think of this as my mid-life crisis novel,’ says David Mitchell. ‘I’m not going to run for office, I’m not going to buy a sports car, I don’t have the stamina for an inappropriate mistress, so I’ve written The Bone Clocks.’ On the phone from…

Ian Rankin, Tony Parsons, Kathy Reichs and Ian Mcwhirter among highlights at Bloody Scotland 2014

27 Aug 2014

The crime fiction festival also welcomes Denise Mina, John Gordon Sinclair and David Hewson

Now an established literary festival which continues to grow and attract ever more well-known international guests, Stirling-based Bloody Scotland was established with the intention of celebrating what co-founder Lin Anderson calls 'Scotland’s other…

David Stubbs - Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany

27 Aug 20144 stars

A thorough critical and cultural history of the genre of Kraftwerk, Can, Neu!, Faust and more

'The European canon is here' declared David Bowie on 1976's Station to Station, signalling his allegiance to the new German music, crassly but enduringly dubbed krautrock by the 1970s British music press. Four decades on, krautrock is enshrined in the…

Julia Donaldson, James Robertson (trans.) - Room on the Broom in Scots

27 Aug 20144 stars

An already engaging and exciting story becomes even more theatrical when ‘performed’ in a new tongue

The winning combination of Julia Donaldson’s stories and Axel Scheffler’s illustrations has seen their picture books grace the shelves and bedside tables of children the world over. As such, it’s a formula you don’t want to mess with without due…

Michael Palin to tour UK in support of new book Travelling to Work

27 Aug 2014

The legendary Monty Python member discusses showbiz and travel in his third memoir

Is there anyone more popular in the world of British entertainment than Michael Palin? It’s very unlikely. Not even his participation in the Monty Python O2 reunion bashes can take the shine from the public’s love for him; you just sense that he was…

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Matthew Thomas - We Are Not Ourselves

26 Aug 20143 stars

A patchy period narrative following the immigrant American Dream

Eileen Tumulty, raised by hard-drinking Irish parents in 1940s New York, craves a different life. She manages to pursue a nursing career and marries Ed, a brilliant scientist, seeing in him an opportunity for a better life. But Ed isn’t as enamoured…

Top five books to revisit at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014

18 Aug 2014

Works by George Eliot, William S Burroughs, EM Forster, Mervyn Peak and Jane Austen reappraised

Middlemarch, George Eliot (1874) Set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch, Eliot’s complex novel has multiple plots with a sprawling cast of characters, with themes including the status of marriage, idealism, and religion. Rebecca Mead…

Walking Dead comic artist Charlie Adlard set for 2014 Edinburgh Book Festival events

17 Aug 2014

Artist also appears with Robbie Morrison to discuss WWI graphic novel White Death

Born in Shrewsbury in 1966, comic artist Charlie Adlard first arrived on the UK scene with work for 2000AD’s enduring monthly anthology spin-off the Judge Dredd Megazine, and has continued to work for publishers Rebellion on series in both publications…

Highlights from 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival: Fri 22 – Mon 25 Aug

17 Aug 2014

Martin Amis, Gruff Rhys, Haruki Murakami and Peter Ross among guests at Charlotte Square

Friday sees a joint event with two of the literature’s bright young things, Ned Beauman and Clemens J Setz discussing their recent work. Beauman will be speaking about Glow, his follow-up to 2012’s Booker Prize-longlisted The Teleportation Accident, and…

Andrew Ladd on his debut novel What Ends

17 Aug 2014

Author set to appear at 2014 Edinburgh Book Fringe with Andrés Neuman

Where he’s from, says debut novelist Andrew Ladd, is the hardest question to answer. Born to American parents living in Brighton who swiftly afterwards moved to Edinburgh, he grew up there, went to university in Montreal and Boston, and now lives in…

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Sarah Waters - The Paying Guests

17 Aug 20144 stars

An absorbing read, rich in period detail and complex characters

Four years after she was nominated for the Booker Prize with The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters has returned with her sixth novel, The Paying Guests. In a shabby but still genteel London suburb just after World War I, Frances Wray and her mother are…

MCM Scotland Comic Con set for Glasgow SECC

17 Aug 2014

Guests at convention include James Cosmo, DC Douglas and Hannah Spearritt

Only a few short years ago, comic conventions were for a niche audience of passionate comic book fans. A few days in a dusty hall dedicated to superheroes and the writers and artists who brought them to life. Over the last few years their popularity has…

Howard Jacobson - J

17 Aug 20142 stars

Man Booker Prize-longlisted dystopian novel full of historical flashes of little political mooring

Howard Jacobson’s J has been longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. Though he won in 2010 for The Finkler Question, his publisher assures us J is unlike his others, explicitly encouraging its being named in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty-Four…

ReferendumFest 2014 to explore issues surrounding Scottish independence debate

17 Aug 2014

Guests include Lesley Riddoch, Kate Higgins, Gerry Hassan, Owen Dudley-Edwards and Henry McLeish

Make up your own mind The Yes campaign plays on Braveheart sentiments about saving Scotland from the Auld Enemy, while the No-voters are a bunch of land-owning upper class Tories, right? Separate fact from emotion at this five-day festival promising…

Ali Smith - How to be Both

17 Aug 20145 stars

Man Booker Prize-longlisted book a stunning work that is as rewarding as it is challenging

Being longlisted for the Man Booker Prize before publication adds heady expectations to a novel, but with How to be Both, Ali Smith has reasserted herself as one of the UK’s most inventive and progressive writers. Replicating techniques borrowed from…