Edinburgh International Book Festival: Brian Cox, Jarvis Cocker, Kevin Bridges, Diana Gabaldon and Shirley Manson to appear
Scottish comedy favourites Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges and Janey Godley will all make headline appearances at the first full-scale edition of the event for three years.
Outlander author Diana Gabaldon, screenwriter and producer Armando Iannucci, Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross, singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright, and Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh will also feature in the eclectic line-up of 550 guests from 50 countries.
More than 600 events will be staged at a "festival village" at Edinburgh College of Art on Lauriston Place and at the Central Hall at Tollcross.
Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart will lead a huge line-up of Scottish authors, including Irvine Welsh, Ali Smith, Val McDermid, Jenni Fagan, Amy Liptrot, Ian Rankin, Stuart Cosgrove, Louise Welsh, Denise Mina, Maggie O’Farrell and Ewan Morrison.
International guests include journalist and author Maria Ressa, the first Filipino winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Australian writer Helen Garner, Canadian writer Alexander MacLeod, American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, Irish novelist Colm Tóibín and Ukrainian historian Serhii Plokhy.
Book Festival director Nick Barley, who has called for Edinburgh to step up efforts to reclaim its crown as the world's "Festival City" this summer, said: “We’re throwing absolutely everything we've got at this programme.
“The aim of the game was to get people back out again and bring back the buzz of the festival. It was very much programmed in that spirit and we hope it will have broad appeal.
“We have a very strong selection of people who have not necessarily made their name or living from writing books but have become successful in other areas, and are coming to the festival to talk about their ideas.
“It’s a really important way of spreading the word about the festival, widening our net and bringing more people into our event.
“We’re very excited that all these writers have agreed to come to Edinburgh. It really shows the power of the city as a place that people want to be involved in culture."
A key element of this year’s programme will see authors teamed up for one-off on-stage collaborations and discussions.
Manson and Church will join poet Michael Pederson to launch a memoir inspired by the death of close friend Scott Hutchison, the Frightened Rabbit singer.
Andoh will join pianist Guillaume de Chassy for an illustrated performance of The Last Colony, QC Philippe Sands’ new book chronicling the UK Government’s mistreatment of the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.
As well as his own headline appearance, Frankie Boyle will be in conversation with the leading human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been lined up for two events as an interviewer, quizzing both Cox and Welsh.
Professor Devi Sridhar, one of the Scottish Government’s leading Covid advisers, will be reflecting on lessons to be learned from the handling of the pandemic around the world.
The festival will feature a celebratory event to mark 50 years of work from former Scots Makar Liz Lochhead and an appearance from current national poet Kathleen Jamie. Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery will be join forces with Caitlin Skinner, artistic director of theatre company Stellar Quines, to launch a live edition of their new podcast Quines Cast.
Mr Barley said: “Michael Pedersen’s book launch is just one example from our programme of how great festival events can come about if you go beyond the obvious.
“Bringing Shirley Manson and Charlotte Church together on stage for the first time with Michael is going to be quite an event.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Brian Cox has been given permission to fly back from filming the fourth series of Succession to appear at the festival with Nicola Sturgeon. It’s not straightforward finding time in his schedule.
“We don’t invite Nicola Sturgeon to come to the festival to talk about her politics. We invite her because she is an absolutely brilliant interviewer. It’s really interesting to see a politician who listens.
“PJ Harvey will be coming to the festival to talk about a book of poetry she has written, talking to Don Paterson, one of Scotland’s greatest poets, who is her editor and knows her poetry work better than anyone. What better way to bring out the best understanding of her than Don interviewing her.”
The book festival is joining forces with the Royal Lyceum Theatre to stage a new Fringe play at the art college’s “Wee Red Bar”. Line of Duty and The Thick Of It star Paul Higgins lead the cast of an adaptation of David Keenan’s Lanarkshire-set novel This Is Memorial Device, which follows the exploits of a fictional post-punk band in Lanarkshire.
Mr Barley said: “I hope it’s going to be one of the most talked-about events on the Fringe, which will bring Fringe audiences to our site, and create that cross-over feeling that is really needed in a vibrant festival city."
The book festival, which went ahead last year in a scaled-down format at the art school, has expanded to the 750-capacity Central Hall for its biggest events. This comes ahead of a long-term relocation in 2024 to Edinburgh University's new "futures institute," which is currently under construction at the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary building.
Mr Barley said: “Edinburgh College of Art is an absolutely brilliant site, but it’s just not quite big enough to cope with the demand that we’re going to get for a programme like this.
"I hope it’s clear why we need to use the Central Hall and also why we need to move in the longer term to the Edinburgh Futures Institute, which has got the capacity for an international festival of this scale, which is what people want us to run.”