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Simon Armitage and Bill Manhire headline StAnza poetry festival in 2015

1 Oct 2014

Sinéad Morrissey, Ian Duhig and Alice Notley also set to perform at annual event in St Andrews

StAnza, Scotland’s poetry festival, has revealed that Simon Armitage and New Zealand’s Poet Laureate Bill Manhire will be among its headliners for 2015. The annual event takes place in venues across St Andrews but has its hub at the Byre Theatre…

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…

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…

Top 5 new book releases this autumn

9 Oct 2014

Including David Nicholls, Ian McEwan, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and Lena Dunham

David Nicholls – Us (Hodder & Stoughton) Flushed by the success of the intensely loveable *3One Day*2 and creditably not put off by the poorness of the film version which followed, David Nicholls here swaps youthful romance for lived-in, mature love…

Kevin Bridges – We Need to Talk About . . . Kevin Bridges

9 Oct 20143 stars

Autobiographical self-awareness and emotional honesty from Glaswegian stand-up

While it's virtually taken for granted that an arena comic will pen an autobiography sooner rather than later, Kevin Bridges appreciates that he's ridiculously young to be reminiscing about his life. Now 27, more than a third of this book passes with…

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Marilynne Robinson – Lila

8 Oct 20144 stars

Third novel set in Gilead is moving exploration of existence, love and inevitability of loneliness

Lila is the third of Marilynne Robinson’s novels to be set in the fictional Iowa town of Gilead and tells the story of the ageing Reverend John Ames and his much younger wife. Readers first met this pair in Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel…

Book Week Scotland 2014 programme to include hundreds of free author events

8 Oct 2014

Other highlights include artwork displays in libraries and free books for all ages between Nov 24–30

Free books for adults and kids alike, artworks in libraries, and hundreds of free author events across the nation are just some of the highlights of the third Book Week Scotland. It takes place from 24 to 30 November, and its programme has just been…

Tina Sutton – The Making of Markova

26 Sep 20144 stars

Meticulously researched and dynamically written homage to Britain's first ballet star

When journalist Tina Sutton was handed the boxed-up archives of prima ballerina Alicia Markova by Boston University, she could scarcely have guessed the treasure trove that lay inside. Decades of letters, diaries, press clippings and theatre programmes…

Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven

26 Sep 20144 stars

Expert storytelling sets this provocative tale of societal apocalypse apart

When the Georgia Flu hits, the age of electricity comes to an abrupt end. 99% of the world’s population die, taking with them the knowledge mankind used to create everything from aeroplanes to running water. For the few that survive the collapse, life…

Bloody Scotland crime writing festival enjoys most successful year yet

22 Sep 2014

'Tartan noir' highlights include Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Tony Parsons and Ian Rankin

Bloody Scotland started in 2012 with the intention of showcasing the best of Scottish and international crime writing. This has been the festival’s most successful year yet, with packed out author events and less traditional happenings, such as a…

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Head to the Highlands this Autumn!

19 Sep 2014

Homecoming Scotland 2014 has already enjoyed many brilliant moments over the past few months… but there are plenty more to come! Be part of it and check out the jam-packed Highland Homecoming programme; a two-month celebration of the very best of…

Opinion: The Man Booker Prize 2014 shortlist

19 Sep 2014

Award sends the literary world into a frenzy – but is this year’s shortlist worth the hype?

It’s a landmark year in Booker history – the first year that US authors can enter, resulting in either a truly international competition or the end of Western civilisation, depending on who you believe. Actually, the new ruling means all…

Yes or No? 15 shows to help you make your decision for the Scottish independence referendum

12 Sep 2014

Need help deciding? Let the worlds of art, theatre, comedy, books and music lend a hand

Glasgow Early Days: The Arches Referendum Festival A week of special theatre commissions including work by Rob Drummond, Gary McNair & Davey Anderson and Robert Ormerod, with the Arches Political Party the night before and the What Now? Brunch the…

A bookworm's guide to Edinburgh and Glasgow

11 Sep 2014

A handy guide for lovers of reading, writing, libraries, literary festivals, comics and spoken word

What better way to browse new books or start writing your own than over a coffee or cake? Lovely bookshops that also happen to feature delicious snacks and drinks include Edinburgh's Looking Glass Books just off the Meadows and Waterstones on Princes…

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…

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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…

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…

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…

Interview: Esther Freud, daughter of Lucien Freud, on her latest novel Mr Mac and Me

11 Sep 2014

The author's latest work takes inspiration from Charles Rennie Mackintosh

‘I don’t think I can have a cogent thought without it coming out through my fingers,’ jokes Esther Freud, wrapping said fingers around a cup of herbal tea. The author is in a tent at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, explaining her borderline…

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…

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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…

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…

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…

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…

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…