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Conversations with the International Booker Prize Shortlist

In a weekly series of conversations with the shortlisted authors and translators, our partnership with the International Booker Prize presents some of the most stimulating and thought-provoking writers and thinkers from across the world who have been published in translation this year. The results range from an unforgettable examination of memory and the colourful life of a Jewish family in Soviet Russia, to a speculative novel set on a spaceship 200 years into the future, which asks deep questions about the very meaning of human life. 

The events with the shortlisted authors and translators will be broadcast live here on the website every week in the run-up to the announcement of the International Booker Prize winner on 2 June. This is a rare opportunity to explore how novels are charting the progress of human history while it’s still in the eye of a storm. The line-up and event details are below.

Olga Ravn & Martin Aitken with Heather Parry

Lost in Space

Thursday 29 April 19:30 - 20:30

Since she published her debut novel Celestine in 2015, Olga Ravn has come to be regarded as one of the most influential writers in contemporary Danish literature. In her new book, The Employees, she has crafted a small masterpiece; brilliantly...

Mariana Enriquez & Megan McDowell with Daniel Hahn

Mining the Human Spirit

Thursday 6 May 19:30 - 20:30

Translator Megan McDowell has worked with many of the new generation of Latin American authors – including Mariana Enriquez, Lina Meraune and Samanta Schweblin – to bring their stylish, gothic writing to enthusiastic readers all over the world. ...

David Diop & Anna Moschovakis with Philippe Sands

On Which Side of the Frontline Does the Enemy Lie?

Thursday 13 May 19:30 - 20:30

When we imagine the experiences of those who fought in ‘The Great War’, whose perspective are we taking? Perhaps the majority of histories have taken a Eurocentric view. Not French-Senegalese author David Diop, whose unforgettable short novel At...

Benjamin Labatut & Adrian Nathan West with Jay G Ying

A Fistful of Equations

Thursday 20 May 19:30 - 20:30

Anyone who studied physics at school might remember the mysterious way in which light is said to hover somewhere between wave and particle. In a similar way, according to Philip Pullman, the thrilling new work by Benjamin Labatut hovers somewhere...

Maria Stepanova & Sasha Dugdale with Allan Little

Things We Can’t Remember, Things We Can’t Forget

Tuesday 25 May 19:30 - 20:30

In an era when everything from photographs to credit cards and notes can all be preserved and stored on our personal devices, what is the impact on our own brain’s ability to store memories? Maria Stepanova’s astounding meta-memoir is a panoramic,...

Éric Vuillard & Mark Polizzotti with Amelia Gentleman

Privilege, Tyranny and the Voices of the Unheard

Thursday 27 May 19:30 - 20:30

Writer and film-maker Éric Vuillard was catapulted to fame in his native France when he won the Prix Goncourt in 2017 for his novel The Order of the Day, set in Austria in the lead-up to the Second World War. This also began the working relationship...

The next Edinburgh International Book Festival will take place from 14-30 August 2021. The programme will be announced on 6 July. Sign up for our ebulletins or follow us on social media to hear announcements and updates.

In the meantime, you can enjoy watching Festival events on the website, have a look at our Festival photographs, listen to or download free podcasts of event recordings and watch exclusive interviews and Festival highlights from past Book Festivals on our YouTube channel and your favourite podcast platforms.