David Pollock gives us a run-down of the highlights of this years Aye Write!; the festival that worships the written word
Now in its fourth year, Aye Write! 2009 promises to be the biggest and best instalment of the Glasgow-based literary festival yet, and - as the name boldly hints - one which continues to blend an appraisal of the wider written world with a strong spine of Scots storytellers.
Without doubt the biggest name appearing during the nine day event at the grand Mitchell Library, the largest public reference library in Europe, will be the author and playwright Alan Bennett (Fri 6 Mar). Although sadly tickets are long since gone, other big names abound; like broadcaster and journalist Joan Bakewell (Mon 9 Mar, 6pm), who is also appearing on the back of her autobiography The Centre of the Bed and now her debut novel (at the age of 75, no less) All the Nice Girls.
As is more and more the case these days, guests with a high media presence rise to the top of the pile regardless of their publishing history. This means there will doubtless be a healthy turn-out for cosy Dundonian GMTV broadcaster and columnist Lorraine Kelly (Sat 14 Mar, 6pm), here launching the paperback edition of her autobiography Lorraine: Between You and Me. Roberta Taylor (Sat 7 Mar, 6pm), meanwhile, is a familiar face from TV shows Eastenders and The Bill, and will be discussing her autobiography Too Many Mothers and debut novel The Reinvention of Ivy Brown. Treading the memoir trail, meanwhile, is Scots actor Bill Patterson (Fr 13 Mar, 6pm) with Tales from the Back Green.
Aye Writers of more highbrow televisual leanings might want to hear talks by prolific broadcaster, novelist and non-fiction writer Melvyn Bragg (Sat 7 Mar, 4.30pm) or the BBC news correspondent, journalist and novelist Gavin Esler (Sat 7 Mar, 7.30pm; Sun 8 Mar, 4pm). Investigative reporter and author of Flat Earth News Nick Davies (Sat 7 Mar, noon) will also be discussing current affairs.
As we’ve come to expect from the festival, the Scottish literati will be out in force, and most should be familiar to international readers. Right at the top of the pile we have crime writer and creator of the Rebus series Ian Rankin (Thu 12 Mar, 6pm and 8pm), No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street creator Alexander McCall Smith (Tue 10 Mar, 7.30pm) and the prolific artist and writer, most notably of Lanark, Alasdair Gray (Sun 8 Mar, 7.30pm), whose new novel is entitled Old Men in Love.
More well-established and respected Scots authors, poets and playwrights abound, amongst them experienced hands Janice Galloway (Tue 10 Mar, 6pm), AL Kennedy (Sat 7 Mar, 3pm and 7.30pm), Liz Lochhead (Sat 14 Mar, 6pm) and crime writer Val McDermid (Sun 8 Mar, 5.30pm). The new breed include Alan Bissett (Fri 13 Mar, 9pm; Aye Write! Awards Ceremony, Sat 14 Mar, 8pm), Rodge Glass (Sat 7 Mar, 7.30pm; Sun 8 Mar, 5.30pm; Sat 14 Mar, 11am) and Denise Mina (Sun 8 Mar, 5.30pm). And that’s not all; besides the 142 scheduled authors and presenters appearing, there will be a special focus on the life and work of Charles Darwin on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Ten new short stories have also been commissioned on the theme of whisky in this year of Scottish Homecoming, and a preceding city-wide event named the Aye Write! Big City Read will see 45,000 copies of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World handed out for free around Glasgow.
AYE WRITE! INFO
Mitchell Library, 201 North Street, Glasgow, (D3), Mar 6-14, 0141 287 2870 or 2999, www.ayewrite.com, all shows £7 (£6) unless otherwise stated.