Edinburgh International Book Festival goes more global than ever
- Alex Johnston
- 10 June 2015
2015 programme has the emphasis on 'international', so we took a closer look at its global lineup
Book festivals sometimes seem to be local authors telling local stories, which is great if you can't hear those stories too often, but sometimes it's refreshing to cast the net wider.
The 2015 Edinburgh International Book Festival has its eyes on the whole globe, bringing in writers from Quebec, Iceland, Australia, North Korea, Mexico, Israel, Germany, South Africa, the USA and many other places, in a celebration of the way books and stories are able to move from one place another. There are more than 800 authors appearing in 750 events for all ages, including appearances by familiar festival faces such as Janice Galloway, Alexander McCall Smith, Alasdair Gray, Howard Jacobson, Hermione Lee and Val McDermid, but the international events add some new voices to the mix.
There's a visit from three Canadian poets from the Innu tribe of northern Canada, Joséphine Bacon, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Naomi Fontaine, who have worked with three Scotland-based poets, Anna Crowe, Rachel McCrum and Jennifer Williams, on English and Scots versions of their poems. One of the festival's guest selectors is Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco (you may remember his 2013 Fruitmarket show Thinking in circles, who offers a view of Mexican writing with three events featuring Mexican novelists, essayists and poets.
The young North Korean writer Hyeonseo Lee, who left her native land as a teenager and lived for years in China as an illegal immigrant before finally making it to South Korea, talks about her memoir The Girl with Seven Names. The Changing Middle East is a strand of events concerning one of the most volatile parts of the world, featuring a new novel from Lebanese master Elias Khoury, an appearance by cult Israeli writer Etgar Keret and the launch of an updated edition of historian Avi Shlaim's classic dissection of Israeli attitudes towards the Arab world, The Iron Wall.
Talking Translation celebrates the art of bringing a work from one language into another and features among other things a celebration of Islamic calligraphy, an anthology of Gaelic poems from World War I, a discussion on the virtues of bilingualism, and what amounts to a translation-off, in which Ollie Brock and Rosalind Harvey present their own versions of the same text by Mexican novelist Yuri Herrera.
Book now, and we mean now; EIBF events tend to sell out in less time than it takes to read a Lydia Davis short story.
Edinburgh International Book Festival is at Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh from Sat 15–Mon 31 Aug