2020 Online Programme Launched: Keep the Conversation Going

2020 Online Programme Launched: Keep the Conversation Going

This year, we’re inviting authors and audiences from around the world to ‘Keep the Conversation Going.’ From 15-31 August, enjoy more than 140 events for adults and children for FREE via our website, including live conversations, discussions, readings, and draw-alongs. 

We’ll be crossing continents and time zones to bring you 200 authors and illustrators, from more than 30 countries. Innovative features include audience chat rooms, Q&A sessions, a new online Festival bookshop and opportunities for audiences to meet the author face-to-face and have their book signed.  

We’re bringing some of the world’s biggest names to the 2020 Book Festival. Double Booker Prize Winner Hilary Mantel discusses the final novel in her trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, examines the European Green Deal with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Arundhati Roy reflects on the implications of the global pandemic in Azadi, her new collection of essays, and David Mitchell explores the musical inspiration behind Utopia Avenue. 2019 Booker Prize Winner Bernardine Evaristo joins Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, historian William Dalrymple discusses the East India Company with Fergal Keane, Turkish author Elif Shafak launches her new polemic How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division and the irrepressible Irish author Marian Keyes brings her latest bestseller Grown Ups.
Scottish talent is on show during the Festival including Maggie O’Farrell dissecting her first historical novel Hamnet, Val McDermid launching the latest in her thrilling Karen Pirie series, Alexander McCall Smith who chats with the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson and Douglas Stuart who brings us his stunning 2020 Booker longlisted debut novel Shuggie Bain. We also celebrate the launch of, the final in Ali Smith’s Summer with a one-off exclusive showing of a short film by Sarah Wood, and Ian Rankin shares his latest Rebus story.
International voices include Samantha Power, former war correspondent and US Ambassador to the UN, who delivers the Frederick Hood Memorial Lecture, renowned Guadeloupe-born novelist and playwright Maryse Condé, Japan’s prestigious Mieko Kawakami with her first novel translated into English, Hong Kong activist and leading voice in the Umbrella Movement Joshua Wong  and 2020 Booker Prize nominee Maaza Mengiste. We also welcome all six authors shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize in conversation with their translators (with one exception who wishes to remain anonymous) and the Festival hosts the first interview with the winning author announced on 26 August. 
We are delighted to be revealing the winners of the University of Edinburgh’s James Tait Black Prizes and the biennial Edwin Morgan Poetry Prize. This year marks the centenary of Edwin Morgan’s birth, and an additional celebratory event includes voices from a wide range of Scottish writers and poets. 
Our 2020 programme features a strong poetry line-up, with appearances from British-Trinidadian and T S Eliot Prize winner Roger Robinson, Mojave American and Latinx Natalie Diaz, British ‘Instapoet’ Nikita Gill, and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay in conversation with US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Gomeroi poet Alison Whittaker is joined by Ancestress, Ellen van Neerven and Uncle Jim Everett to read from Fire Front, the ground-breaking anthology of First Nation poetry from Australia, while Allie Esiri welcomes actors Helena Bonham Carter, Tobias Menzies and Hamilton’s Jamael Westman to read poems from her brand new anthology A Poem for Every Autumn Day.
The Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme is jam-packed full of fun, interactive and inspiring events for kids and readers of all ages. Don’t miss the chance to see superstars Julia Donaldson and Cressida Cowell, Guinness World Record Holder Rob Biddulph, and Helen Skelton, Lily Dyu, Eilidh Muldoon and Lari Don who explore stories of fantastic female adventurers. Plus join us for daily Draw-Along activities with illustrators on our Facebook page every morning at 9.30am. We have some great YA events too, featuring appearances from The Mortal Instruments creator Cassandra Clare; New York Times best-selling author Nic Stone; award-winning poet Dean Atta; acclaimed debut novelist Liz Hyder; The Gender Games author Juno Dawson; and Vlogger and Drag Queen George Lester. 
In the second year of a collaboration with the New York Times, the Book Festival presents events including the evolving place and rise of women in politics with In Her Words editor Francesca Donner. In addition, audiences can enjoy an interactive session with The Times Crosswords team and a special edition of The New York Times Book Review featuring senior staff editor John Williams. Finally, a discussion on capitalism and climate change in the era of Covid-19 chaired by international climate reporter Somini Sengupta.
Other authors addressing climate change include John Freeman in conversation with Haitian- American writer Edwidge Danticat and Aotearoa poet Tayi Tibble, both contributors to his new anthology Tales of Two Planets, and Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac who explore The Future We Choose. Helen Macdonald introduces her thoughtful new collection of essays and Kathleen Jamie launches Antlers of Water, an outstanding, and the first ever, collection of contemporary Scottish writing on landscape and nature.  
Following the success of the our Outriders Africa project, where five pairs of writers journeyed through 15 different countries including The Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, Uganda and Botswana, participants including Kayus Bankole, Tsitsi Dangarembga (2020 Booker Longlisted) and Wanjiru Koinange are back to share their experiences and some of the writing produced from the project.  
“As society searches for ways to make sense of the new reality, it’s clearer than ever that books and writers offer a framework for constructive dialogue and for sharing bold new ideas,” Book Festival Director Nick Barley said. 
“It’s been a leap of faith for everyone involved, but in these extraordinary few months we’ve managed to transform the way we deliver our Festival, bringing writers and readers together in a new online space for discussion and imagination. Despite the challenges I’ve been inspired by authors’ enthusiasm to try out this new approach, joining us in Edinburgh from all over the world without having to leave their homes.”
All events are FREE to watch through our website. Several events across the programme will be BSL interpreted, and further events will be live captioned. Audiences can mingle with each other before and during events by entering a live chatroom, and many events offer a Q&A session with the authors. Anyone can post questions to authors and vote for their favourites from other audience members. 
We have created a new online bookshop which will feature titles from all authors in the 2020 programme in addition to showcasing a range of books from Scottish publishers. Across the Festival, there are a selection of live online book signings where audience members are able to chat to the author face-to-face and get their book signed after the event. A maximum of 50 people can book into each signing once they’ve purchased a copy of the relevant book from the Festival’s online bookshop.
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