Once a year something magical happens in Edinburgh. All the bookish people in the world gather together in Charlotte Square, a beautiful part of the city named after the wife of King George III. It seems a fitting place to hold the world’s biggest book festival, a place where literary royalty, and their admirers, assemble. Saturday marked the official opening of Edinburgh International Book Festival. Julia Donaldson, Val McDermid, Paula Hawkins and Anthony Horowitz were all in camp, and despite the drizzly weather, the atmosphere was electric.
I started my day with the festival’s Opening Up event with authors Carl MacDougall and Frank Cottrell Boyce, who were chaired by Sally Magnusson. Both authors were there to talk about their latest short story collections, MacDougall’s Someone Always Robs The Poor and Cottrell Boyce’s still to be named Scrabble themed collection, which is due to be released this Autumn. Readings from both books were stunning, with MacDougall’s words moving me to tears. I look forward to picking up both collections, very soon.
My second event of the day was Julia Hobsbawn’s Too Much Information. Chaired by Bob McDevitt the event explored the themes of Hobsbawn’s book Fully Connected and examined how human beings are coping with the dizzying amounts of digital information that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. It was an interesting event which highlighted just how many people are struggling to keep afloat in an age when we are drowning in data.
Next up was the Paula Cocozza and Gail Honeyman Wild at Heart event at the Festival’s Writing Retreat. The authors were both there to discuss their debut novels; Cocozza’s How to be Human and Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Chaired by Lee Randall, the event featured lots of interesting discussion on the themes of mental health issues and loneliness.
My final event of the day was Sarah Moss & Helen Sedgwick’s Small Kids: Small Problems, Big Kids: Big Problems. I’ve been a fan of Sedgwick’s since reading The Comet Seekers (and interviewing her for The Scots Magazine in 2016), but I was completely new to Sarah Moss’s work. Both Moss’s latest novel The Tidal Zone and Sedgwick’s dystopian offering, The Growing Season, examine the complexities of motherhood. With beautiful, thought provoking readings from both authors, this event was my favourite of the day.
I left Charlotte Square with a head full of words and a TBR pile the length of my arm. I’m already looking forward to returning this Friday, for round two.
For further information about the Edinburgh International Book Festival, visit: https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/