UNBOUND LATE NIGHTS AT THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL 11–26 AUG 2013
Discover a World, in Words
Edinburgh International Book Festival
very August the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place in Charlotte Square Gardens, a leafy green space just a stone’s throw from views of the Castle and Princes Street. Attracting around 200,000 visitors every year, it’s the place to be if you want to be challenged, entertained and inspired (or just to laze around and soak up the festival atmosphere). All events take place in a speciality-built tented village in Charlotte Square Gardens, with cafes, bookshops, bars and the Guardian Spiegeltent. In 2013, the Book Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary by looking back on the last three decades of British and international culture and forward to what the next three decades may bring. The programme is a festival of ideas and a forum for discussion, bringing together authors and leading thinkers from the worlds of science, politics, business, economics and journalism from Scotland and across the globe. This year Margaret Atwood, Gavin Esler, Kate Mosse and Neil Gaiman each take on the mantle of Guest Selector, hosting a series of events on genre, the collapse of trust, women in the 21st century and the reshaping of modern fantasy respectively. Ian Rankin joins pop legends Tim Burgess and Peter Hook; Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl discuss their lives and careers; and Vic Galloway launches his new book on Fife’s Fence Collective. Leading thinkers put forward blueprints for the future in debates on defence, the
environment, copyright, mental health and the arts with the aim of improving life in 2043. And with the Independence Referendum only 16 months away leading Scottish journalists, including Kirsty Wark and Iain Macwhirter, seek to identify the key questions that need to be answered before we can make an informed decision. Superheroes, comic book characters and even Don Quixote swoop into the Book Festival as comics, graphic novels and the people who create them are celebrated in Stripped. More than forty events lay bare the incredible scope of comics and graphic novels being produced today, featuring Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, Posy Simmonds, Bryan Talbot and many others. The 2013 Book Festival programme is shamelessly eclectic: Salman Rushdie, Ron Rash, Will Storr, Ali Smith, Melinda Gebbie, Caitlin Moran, Hadley Freeman, Grant Morrison and David Peace are just a few of the authors and debut writers jostling for attention. The Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme, running alongside adult events, brings together writers for young people. Julia Donaldson, Theresa Breslin and the new Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman are joined by hundreds of other children’s favourite authors and characters and plenty of new talent. [Roland Gulliver] Full details of the programme can be found online at www.edbookfest.co.uk To book tickets, visit the website or call 0845 373 5888
An Introduction to
Jura Unbound 2013 I
Nile Rodgers at last year's Unbound
I N D EP EN D EN T
C U LT U R A L
J O U R N A L I S M
Editors: Rosamund West & Ryan Rushton Designer: Maeve Redmond Illustrator: Eva Dolgyra
t is 2013 and the Edinburgh International Book Festival is celebrating its 30th birthday. If the Book Festival is the respectable adult of Charlotte Square Gardens, then Jura Unbound is its scruffy tearaway tyke of an offspring. At the tender age of four, it is a bookish bairn, a literary toddler, beginning to find its voice but still susceptible to creating a bit of chaos. The essence of Unbound has always been to do something a little different, to offer authors a different space to tell their stories, to explore the relationship between literature, music and performance. 2013 is no different so among this year’s events is Multiples, a compilation of 12 stories, translated by 60 writers; Adam Thirlwell brings the process to life on stage through your participation. Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists for 2013 is celebrated and Dan Rhodes, never a man for literary convention, hosts a night of readings and performances. A special strand of events on graphic novels and comics called Stripped is taking place at the Book Festival in 2013 and Jura Unbound offers its own interpretation: a Literary Death Match cartoon spectacular and Illicit Ink, who bring comics alive on stage. There’s also a night of stories and songs with Scottish poet and novelist Kevin MacNeil in a musical collaboration with Willie Campbell; John Lemke and Poppy Ackroyd create a unique fusion of their music with the stories of Writers Bloc; Ljodahått, a Norwegian musical collective who defy explanation, bring poems to life and play a
mean wine glass solo. Like the petulant child we are, we want to play the grown-ups’ game, so Jura Unbound has embraced the Book Festival’s theme of 30 years back, 30 years forward. We will journey through the decades and into the future. From Alan Bissett’s latest incarnation, Andrea Dworkin, heading up our 80s night; to celebrating 20 years of the Fence Collective, and finally heading back to the future with Electric Tales, to remember how technology was supposed to be – clunky and chunky, and never going to take over the world. We reflect the changing times of the last 30 years. Gutter magazine launch their new collection of LBGT writing 20 years after the publication of Footsteps & Witnesses and The Reel Festivals Iraq marks ten years since the invasion of Iraq with a riot of poetry, theatre and music. Come and join us every night at 9pm in the atmospheric Guardian Spiegeltent; 16 nights of surprises, discovery and literary entertainment await. It’s free and the bar stays open late. Plus thanks to Jura whisky, our new sponsor, there's a free dram for everyone. And remember, many of the authors and artists in Jura Unbound can be discovered in the main programme. If something inspires you here, take a look at the Book Festival’s website too, you’ll find complementary events – not quite as raw but just as intoxicating. Go and find them and find more like them, you won’t be disappointed. [Roland Gulliver]
Edinburgh International Book Festival is celebrating its 30 year anniversary and Jura Unbound is getting in on the action. We spoke to the organisers of three events reflecting upon a specific decade and one that encompasses all three The 80s: Alan Bissett Who are you and what do you do? An ‘Alan Bissett’ performance can be unpredictable, and can involve anything from chat about superheroes to left-wing politics to Game of Thrones to a reading from one of my books to an audience sing-a-long to me pretending to be a spider. I like to keep the audience guessing. Maybe I won’t even show up! Who knows. Why the 80s? Well, the 80s formed the entirety of my childhood, so it’s fascinating for me to go back and examine them at some remove. They were a titanic period, politically. The Miners’ Strike, for example, was the last stand of the British working-class against Thatcher’s capitalist onslaught, and, depressingly, we’re now living through the results. We’re still in the 80s, basically. Blair, Brown, Cameron: all Thatcherites. That said, there were some great films. Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and the Indiana Jones films will all live forever. And Scottish literature, perhaps because of Thatcher, was on fire. Hello, James Kelman, Liz Lochhead and Alasdair Gray! What can we expect? I will be playing the world’s angriest ever woman Andrea Dworkin. In the nude. You’ll love it. It’s going to be like being stung by a giant, radical, lesbian, feminist bee. But in a good way. The 90s: Craig Taylor – Five Dials Who are you and what do you do? I’m the editor of Five Dials, which is now in its fifth year of production, and currently enjoys an average readership of 100,000, with about 15,000 email subscribers. The magazine promotes work from both emerging and established talents, and over the years has featured a diverse collection of literary fiction and non-fiction from the likes of Zadie Smith, Hari Kunzru, W.G. Sebald, Sam Lipsyte and Noam Chomsky.
Why the 90s? Nirvana, Fugazi, The Secret History, Saramago’s Blindness, Infinite Jest, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Disgrace, The Savage Detectives, Alias Grace, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Got Your Money.’ What can we expect? The guest list is secret at the moment but we will have at least one prize-winning novelist in attendance. The 00s: Reel Iraq – Ryan Van Winkle Who are you and what do you do? Reel Iraq is part of Reel Festivals, a charity which celebrates contemporary culture in regions typically seen in the media as ‘conflict laden.’ We try to work against mainstream perceptions of these countries. Through translation and performance we are reminded of our common concerns and pursuits across cultures. Reel Festivals has worked with artists and individuals from Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq and, in January, we brought a select group of Scottish poets to the Erbil Literature Festival in Kurdistan to meet their Iraqi contemporaries, work on new translations in English, Kurdish and Arabic and, importantly, made some very close friends while inhabiting and sharing their work. I’m the literature coordinator and will be hosting the evening. Why the 00s? In March Reel Iraq marked the 10 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with a week-long festival of film, poetry, music and discussion throughout the entire UK. In some ways, the start of the millennium was defined by the post-9/11 wars waged in Afghanistan and Iraq. While bearing in mind the political context and the humanitarian situations which they created, the message of Reel Festivals is simple: there are people, art, and culture in Iraq which continues and flourishes behind the headlines. We think our friendship, camaraderie, and sense
Interview: Ryan Rushton of play will come out in this performance and hope that this connection will be imparted to the audience, something that will hopefully be at the forefront of their minds when they leave the Guardian Spiegeltent.
“It’s going to be like being stung by a giant, radical, lesbian, feminist bee. But in a good way” Alan Bissett
What can we expect? We’re very proud to be bringing Sabreen Kadhim to Edinburgh as she was denied her visa for participating in our March tour. She’s an excellent young poet and journalist from Baghdad who is a strong and inspiring figure. She’ll be joined by the poet Ghareeb Iskander from Baghdad as well as our Scottish translators Krystelle Bamford, John Glenday, Jen Hadfield and William Letford. In addition, we’ll have an excerpt from Dina Mousawi’s theatre piece Return which showcases the humour and strength of Iraqi women. Despite rave reviews in the international press, this piece has never been seen in Edinburgh and we’re pleased to be premiering a bit of it here. And, if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got oud and choobi music lined up so there will be some clapping, stomping and dancing in fine Iraqi style. I really want to stress that while the background of the event is deadly serious, we’ll be highlighting the joys of the culture rather than focusing on the destruction of the past decade.
30 Years: The Bookshop Band Who are you and what do you do? The Bookshop Band are myself, Poppy Pitt and Beth Porter. We’re the in-house band for our local independent bookshop, Mr Bs Emporium of Reading Delights, in Bath. When they get an author in for an event, we read the book before hand, and write a couple of songs inspired by it to play at the start. We did that for a year, wrote four albums of songs, and then thought it’d be quite nice to go and play them in some other bookshops around the UK too. And it’s kind of gone from there. The source of all the songs is still the Mr Bs author evenings, but we’ve been all around the UK, and this year to Paris and Ireland too. Why the last 30 years? On the night we’re going to dip into our musical reserves and choose songs that were inspired by books set in those three decades. Books will include Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk by Ben Fountain, Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, Maggie and Me by Damian Barr, and many many more. We’ll intersperse them with a few other songs inspired by other authors who will also be at the Book Festival. What can we expect? We’re going to be joined on stage by Jack Wolf, author of The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones, for which we wrote a song last year, and we’ll also have another very special secret guest author, for whom we’re busy writing a song for at the moment, which we will debut on the night. Alan Bissett/80s is on Sat 17 Aug Five Dials Unwind to the 90s is on Wed 21 Aug Reel Iraq: The Golden Hour is on Mon 19 Aug Back to the Future with The Bookshop Band is on Tue 20 Aug All events are start at 9pm in the Guardian Spiegletent and are free
Super-Powered The debate about the legitimacy of comics as an art form is over. As Literary Death Match and Illicit Ink prepare comics-themed events for Jura Unbound, we celebrate the rise and rise of sequential art Words: Bram E. Gieben
rtist and comics historian Scott McCloud saw comics as “one of the very few forms of mass communication in which individual voices still have a chance to be heard.” The ideas, characters and situations depicted in comics are often more transgressive, inventive and counter cultural than those found in literature, art or mainstream cinema. Even superhero comics, the form’s most commercial incarnation, referred to by the acclaimed writer Warren Ellis as “underwear pervert” comics, often take on big, sometimes controversial themes, from allegories for racism and multiculturalism (X-Men), to posthuman futurism (Iron Man), to vigilantism and social control (Batman). “Comics deal with two fundamental communicating devices: words and images,” writes Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit, and widely acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of modern comics. In his fantastic treatise on the form, Comics and Sequential Art. “Admittedly this is an arbitrary separation. But, since in the modern world of communication they are treated as independent disciplines, it seems valid. Actually, they are derivatives of a single origin and in the skillful employment of words and images lies the expressive potential of the medium.” Slowly, over the past three decades, this separation has become less important, and both comics and graphic novels (another spurious distinction) have gained traction as serious art and literature. The rise of the ‘original graphic novel’ – self-contained stories, often with a literary bent, and aimed (some might say cynically so) at an older, more mature reader, as opposed to the collections of serialised monthly comics, has now almost completely done away with the perception of sequential art as a debased form. Nonetheless, the debate about whether or not comics are a ‘real’ art form is nearly always the hook for a news piece about sequential art, or graphic novels, or whatever term the voguish literary establishment currently prefer. Journalists will usually wheel out some well-worn,
classic examples – Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis – as evidence of a growing trend of maturity in the form. The literary merit of these graphic novels is a moot point – the oldest of these works is 27 years old, and has been adapted into a big budget Hollywood film. Thankfully, this year’s Jura Unbound programme at Edinburgh International Book Festival doesn’t waste time debating the merits or otherwise of graphic literature – rather it dives straight in to the culture, with two events marrying the word and the image in new and inventive ways. On 23 August, a very special edition of Adrian Todd Zuniga’s internationally popular Literary Death Match series will pit four writers against each other in a battle for supremacy, with the results judged by three expert critics. Always fun, since 2006 the Literary Death Match events have gained a reputation for unpredictability and anarchy that is a perfect fit for a form where anything is possible, because as critic and comics editor Dwayne McDuffie has said, there is an “infinite effects budget,” with the only constraints on realism and depiction of characters and worlds the creators’ imaginations. With the evening’s performers still to be confirmed, what is absolutely guaranteed is that the audience will enjoy a spectacular voyage into the minds of four skilled comics enthusiasts, pitting their wits against each other in a highpressure, knockout competition. On 24 August, Edinburgh-based literary collective Illicit Ink, headed up for the evening by writers Barbara Melville and Ariadne CassMaran, present an innovative live literature event called Tales From The Strip, which will see writers reading their fiction, and having it interpreted live on stage by leading comics artists Stephen Collins and Emma Vieceli. The event is presented in association with Graphic Scotland, an independent online community set up to support the comics community in Scotland and beyond. Illustrator Collins produces regular work for the Guardian, and is a past recipient of the prestigious Cape / Observer Graphic Short
Story Prize. He recently published his full-length graphic novel, the strange and whimsical The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. Vieceli meanwhile is a prolific comics artist and writer, acclaimed for her work on titles such as Manga Shakespeare, which saw her adapting Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing into graphic form, and the longrunning fantasy epic Dragon Heir, not to mention work for Tori Amos’s Comic Book Tattoo project, and the comics adaptation of Vampire Academy. On the night, both artists will undertake live drawing sessions inspired by the fictional work read by Melville, Cass-Maran and their
“Mainstream culture is not what it once was when science fiction and comics fans huddled in cellars like Gnostic Christians dodging the Romans” Grant Morrison
guests, resulting in a unique and inspiring live collaboration quite unlike anything else in the Book Festival programme. It’s a rare chance to see two gifted artists drawing in public, inspired by leading lights from Scotland’s live literature community. Vieceli returns to the Book Festival on 25 August to discuss her adaptations, while Collins joins Tom Gauld on 24 August to discuss Beard... and his other delightfully eccentric creations. Both Jura Unbound events are part of the Stripped strand at this year’s Book Festival,
entirely dedicated to comics creators and the graphic novel form. The Book Festival has a strong tradition of welcoming comics legends – both Sandman creator Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison have given enormously popular talks in previous years, and both return this August – but the Stripped strand represents the first dedicated programme of events entirely focused on the art form. With appearances from creators as diverse as Chris Ware, creator of the acclaimed Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (12 Aug), and Joe Sacco (13 Aug), creator of the politically-charged graphic novels Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza, Stripped casts its net as wide as possible, addressing everything from newspaper strip cartoons to superhero comics; from underground classics to Sacco’s tough, gritty, journalistic depictions of life in conflict zones. Sacco and Ware will be in conversation on 14 August at an event sponsored by The Skinny, titled Reinventing Comics. The above is literally the tip of the iceberg – with the Literary Death Match and Illicit Ink’s live collaborations at Jura Unbound presenting the comics form in unique and original ways, and a cross-section of international and UK comics talent in attendance, this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival has finally put paid to the debate over the legitimacy of comics as an art form. The 2013 programme is a thrilling celebration of one of the most vibrant, diverse and inventive sites on the literary landscape. In 2000, Grant Morrison identified the coming sea change which would see comics finally emerge resplendent into popular awareness: “Mainstream culture is not what it once was when science fiction and comics fans huddled in cellars like Gnostic Christians dodging the Romans,” he said. “We should come up into the light soon before we suffocate.” On the evidence of this year’s Unbound programme, that emergence is now complete. Literary Cartoon Death Match, 23 Aug, 9-11pm, free Illicit Ink: Tales From The Strip, 24 Aug, 9-11pm, free The Guardian Spiegeltent, Charlotte Square Gardens
Extracts from Marry Me
Hat My mother told me that the time had come for my girlfriend and I to legitimise our sex life. She had a point, so a few days later I found myself down on one knee in a romantic location. Unfortunately, I was rejected. My girlfriend told me she just wasn’t able to see us growing old together, that I had never been quite as good in bed as she had hoped, and that under the circumstances it would be best not to drag things out any longer. When I broke the news to my mother, she was furious. She had already bought a massive hat. She took it out of its box, put it on her head and pointed at it. ‘What am I supposed to do with this fucking thing now?’ she bellowed.
The Open Rhodes Dan Rhodes chats with us about mainstream acceptance, mellowing with age, and what to expect from his Jura Unbound event
he last year or so has been pretty productive for Dan Rhodes, what with the release of his fifth novel, This Is Life, and then Marry Me, a collection of witty little pieces on that holiest of unions. Both have been very well received, and his list of admirers grows and grows (he’s the only writer Stewart Lee reads that isn’t dead). Having kindly agreed to take time away from the pressures of work, family and... urm “trying to get the tumble dryer fixed,” Rhodes ponders whether mainstream acceptance bothers him, especially as it generates less and less material for the ‘Dan Rhodes is disliked by...’ part of his website. “My acceptance hasn’t been that mainstream,” he explains.“You won’t have seen my books anywhere near the charts. Unfortunately my readers can rest assured that they aren’t following the herd.” Anniversaries are definitely the order of the day, with the Book Festival celebrating its thirtieth and it being ten years since Rhodes’ debut, Timoleon Vieta Come Home, was released. This was the catalyst for his inclusion in the 2003 Granta Best of Young British Novelists list; a number of the writers featured on this year’s once-in-a-decade list are also performing at Jura Unbound. At the time Rhodes was quite outspoken about the value of the list and the refusal of other writers on it to sign a statement protesting the Iraq war. Looking back on that and how his career has progressed, Rhodes reflects “I leave the Granta list off my CV, so I’m not exactly setting off fireworks to mark the occasion. I was full of piss and vinegar back then, as any ‘young’ writer should be, but now I’m a serene elder statesman I try my best to take a least-saidsoonest-mended approach to the whole sorry business. My advice to anyone on it this time around? Squeeze some free travel out of them,
Interview: Ryan Rushton
“The idea of mixing book readings with music and alcohol is a splendid innovation. These days I won’t do a reading anywhere that doesn’t have a bar” Dan Rhodes
then put it behind you.” His event at Jura Unbound is listed as ‘Dan Rhodes & Friends,’ raising hopes he may be accompanied by some of the musicians and comedians who recorded videos of themselves reading stories from Marry Me – Stewart Lee, Tim Key, Josie Long and Aidan Moffat to name a few – some of whom he has performed with in the past. Rhodes has new names up his sleeve though: “My first choice for the role of other writer was Neil Forsyth” – writer of the Bob Servant character, recently adapted for TV – “whose books I’ve been lapping up this year. It was a long shot, but it turns out he’ll be in town and has agreed to join us. Treble twenty with the first dart. He’s not a friend though – I’ve never met him, and as far as I
know he’s never heard of me.” Whether or not that is true, the potential for hilarity is pretty high with both involved. Jura Unbound is about more than just straightforward readings though, and in the way of music Rhodes has enlisted “Richard James, who used to be in the sublime Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and who now makes wonderful records in his own right. We’re hoping to get another illustrious participant or two, but it’s all TBC at the moment. We’ll see who’s around on the night.” This eclectic mix of performers suits Rhodes, who admits, “I don’t really enjoy droning out chapters from novels (I didn’t tour This is Life at all for that reason) so I think I’ll be doing shorter stuff – bits from Marry Me, a few oldies and some cover versions.” Considering how prolific he has been in the decade since his debut – four more novels and three collections of short stories – it doesn’t seem too cheeky to ask if we might hear some new material debuted. “I doubt there will be any brand new material,” he explains. “I have a knackering day job and small children, so I can’t find the time to write at the moment. And besides, the poor human race needs a break from my output. There’s even been a petition from Venezuela, and I can see where they’re coming from.” On his opinion of Jura Unbound as a whole Rhodes admits, “I’ve not seen the programme yet, but the idea of mixing book readings with music and alcohol is a splendid innovation. These days I won’t do a reading anywhere that doesn’t have a bar.” I think we can all drink to that. Dan Rhodes & Friends is on Fri 16 Aug in the Guardian Spiegeltent, part of Jura Unbound
Revealing My wife feels desperately sorry for women who wear revealing clothes. Whenever we’re out together and we pass a girl in a short skirt that offers an uninterrupted view of long, smooth legs, she’ll tut, and mutter something like, ‘It’s such a pity – she’s got no self-respect.’ I completely agree with her; if I’m ever out on my own and happen to catch a glimpse of a young lady in a dress so tight that it clings to every contour of her supple body, showing in minute detail the luxuriant shape of her breasts and the outline of her pert behind, I am consumed by an overwhelming sadness. Sighing, I look away almost as quickly as I can. Marry Me is out now, published by Canongate, RRP £8.99
Found in Translation In which Adam Thirlwell explains how he got 61 writers to push 12 stories through 18 languages Interview: Paul F Cockburn
had this idea of doing it almost as some kind of art project,” says Adam Thirlwell of the concept which would eventually become an issue of iconoclastic US literary magazine McSweeney’s Quarterly, and is being published in the UK by Portobello Books. “I just thought it’d be fun to get one story translated in a chain of languages to see what would happen at the end.” Attending a literary festival in Paris, he mentioned this idea to the writer Vendela Vida, not for a moment thinking of it as an issue of McSweeney’s, published by her husband Dave Eggers. Two weeks later, however, Vida emailed Thirlwell to see if he’d be interested in guestediting what would eventually become the ‘Multiples’ issue 42, in which 61 writers took 12 stories through a journey of 18 languages. “We chose 12 original stories – either unknown stories by famous dead people or by living foreign authors who should be more famous,” Thirlwell explains. “Each of these stories was translated in a chain of five or six, going in and out of English. So, a story might start in Spanish, be translated into English, then go into Hungarian, back into English and then into French and back into English finally. For Thirlwell, it was strange to experience life on the other side of the editor’s desk. “It took about two years from literally thinking of the idea to getting a finished copy in our hands,” he says, “although the real work was done over about a year. The basic problem was that none of the story chains could progress until each person had done their work; you were always reliant on the next person in the chain. A month could go by when I was just waiting for people to finish.” One factor in this was Thirlwell’s decision to choose novelists rather than ask trained, professional translators. “Obviously, people’s language abilities were variable, but I wanted to explore what people thought of as style. So I deliberately chose people like John Banville, who is such a stylist that you know even a book review is by him without seeing his byline. I wanted to
see what would happen when you put all these stylists together. Thirlwell is stepping into Jura Unbound territory on 11 August. “I’m doing it with Daniel Hahn, who’s one of the directors of the British Centre for Literary Translations in Norwich,” Thirlwell explains. “Daniel’s brilliant at making translation this fun thing to watch. He’s pioneered events where he gets two translators to work on a short text, but they’re not allowed to see each other’s versions until they’re presented on the night – and then they sort of go head-to-head!
“I just thought it’d be fun to get one story translated in a chain of languages to see what would happen at the end.” Adam Thirlwell
“I want to do an event that’s not so much about presenting the book as exploring some of its ideas in a fun way. One of the aims of the project was how to see just how much a story would change after it had gone through five different translations. So we might do something similar; we’ll give the audience one sentence to translate, and sort of pass it round so at the end of the night we’ll see what happened to it. Daniel’s keen, rightly, to do things in parallel, to show how creative translations can be and how you can have more than one right answer.” Multiples, Sun 11 Aug in the Guardian Spiegeltent
Celebrate comics, graphic novels and the people who create them at the 2013 Edinburgh International Book Festival. Over 40 events featuring comics legends alongside rising new talent including: Neil Gaiman, Melinda Gebbie, Grant Morrison, Joe Sacco, Rutu Modan, Chris Ware, Glyn Dillon, Will Morris, Hannah Berry and many more! Plus: An exhibition of incredible comic art and a Mini Comic Fair.
www.strippedbookfest.co.uk @StrippedFest. Ticket prices £4.50 - £15.00 Book Tickets:www.edbookfest.co.uk / 0845 373 5888 6
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Unbloced 9pm, Wed 14 Aug, free
he collective of wordsmiths known as Writers’ Bloc are moving into new territory for their show at Jura Unbound this year. We caught up with them to find out a bit more. Tell us a bit about the night in general: what is Writers’ Bloc and where did it all start? Writers’ Bloc is a mix of professional writers and new voices. It staged its first show in Edinburgh on Halloween 2001. At that time there wasn’t really a spoken word ‘scene’ in the sense that it exists today – the events there were mainly poetry ones and we wanted to present stories with genre leanings and a bit of an edge. Since then we’ve done quite a few festivals and toured throughout Scotland. We did Unbound in 2010 and 2011, and we’re glad to be back.
crowd-pleasers with more serious work. Previous themes have included B-movies, intoxication, fast food, and antisocial networking. Our last event was a full-on literary séance where we summoned the spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson and a long-dead rollergirl, among others.
Sounds excellent. What have you got planned for Jura Unbound, and how is it different from the usual nights you put on? This year we’re doing something a bit different. Or quite a lot different, really, because we’re taking our cues from musicians John Lemke and Poppy Ackroyd. In TV and film, musicians have to 9pm, Sun 25 Aug, free work to the framework provided by the writer; we’re turning that on its head and presenting ell don’t be! The Fence Collective, a loose new spoken word inspired by their debut albums: grouping of musicians based around the Poppy’s Escapement and John’s People Do. It Berlin , Volksbühne © Paul Pistorius Kingdom of Fife, are one of the most inspiring What’s a regular Writers’ Bloc night like? won’t be so much a typical Writers’ Bloc show as AB4:(,M++#?"#T""(#U?*3.4'5>/#/*++?"9#I4.#7V.4W"H(":=#3D#0,.?/+4C,#F(.+,(H*. and heartening collectives working in Scotland Normally we would present a themed programme a Poppy and John gig with spoken word. today. Eschewing a desire for success in the of new short fiction, blending humour and [Galen O'Hanlon] homogenous quagmire that is contemporary mainstream music, they favour a commitment to community and collaboration. Fence are a bulwark against the boring poison that seeps into our ears from every radio, car, and iWhatever around. Their label, Fence Records, has been quietly delivering quality output for the past fifteen years. Founded by Kenny Anderson (AKA King Creosote, who recently departed from its roster), Johnny Lynch (AKA The Pictish Trail) now takes the lead in the running of the label, but it is a true collective, with the emphasis firmly on artistic autonomy. Humbly, they describe themselves as “a collective of musicians, artists, craftsfolk, chancers and slackers.” However, such surface insouciance belies the seriousness and
On The Fence?
his group take their name from a verse form in Old Norse poetry. ‘Ljodahått’ can be roughly translated as ‘magic song’ or even ‘trollsong,’ but what they do is a lot more complex than the assortment of grunts and growls from the average beast-beneath-a-bridge. Ljodahått take the work of Norwegian poets – mostly from the late 19th to early 20th century – and compose original music to fit alongside. Think of something in between Arcade Fire and Leonard Cohen and you’d be on the right track: poems and lyrics sung and spoken to the accompaniment of a band that can reach up to 14 members. At times they can be slow and lilting, at others they shift into something closer to rock and pop. It’s an intriguing range that reflects the polyglot backgrounds of this group of Norwegian, French, English, German, Swiss and
depth of their endeavour. Fence were founded out of a disillusion with the modern industry and they stand in opposition to their larger, profitobsessed contemporaries, all the while churning out organic, celebratory performances based on the honest, unpretentious craft of their music. It is with good cause, therefore, that Vic Galloway’s new book, Songs in the Key of Fife, details their establishment and the extraordinary intertwining of East Fife’s finest. This Jura Unbound night will follow on from Galloway’s appearance in the main Book Festival programme and promises to be a gift. Fence have a reputation for creating intimate performances and this looks to be an affirmative celebration of how music emerges from community, imagination and friendship. Anyone who has come into contact with Fence sticks with them; this event will undoubtedly convert everyone in the Guardian Spiegeltent to Fence obsessives. [Daniel Davies]
Inked and Lettered 9pm, Sat 24 Aug, free
© Gilles Philippot
9pm, Mon 12 Aug, free
Austrian musicians and composers. Lead man Magne Håvard Brekke set up the project after 25 years of wandering Europe. His ambition is to celebrate Norway’s cultural heritage of poetry and music, exploring how one can inspire and transform the other. The words could be taken from Nobel prize winner Knut Hamsun, or poetcum-lumberjack Hans Børli, but the music is all original composition. And although the vocalists hail from across Europe, everything’s sung in Brekke’s native tongue. Don’t let this put you off: even if your Norwegian is a little lacking, it sounds pretty good all the same. They’ve toured in Paris, Berlin, Oslo, and Vienna (amongst others), so expect a distinctly continental feel to their performance at Jura Unbound. [Galen O’Hanlon]
So, who are you guys? We started out as a bunch of graduates from Napier University’s creative writing course, wanting to do something very different from what was going on in Edinburgh. Basically, we wanted to play in the dark and pull the wings off fairies. Your event is part of the ‘Stripped’ strand of Book Festival events. Are we reaching a golden age for comic books? Heavens no. I think we are about to, but there’s still a long way to go. The surface of what this medium is capable of has only just been scratched. It will be a golden age when a great graphic novel is no longer considered unusual and can sit alongside everything else without being relegated to a niche genre. Your event is a collaboration with Graphic Scotland and will involve both aural and visual literature, how are you going to do this?
Emma Vieceli and Stephen Collins, two great illustrators, are joining us on stage to draw as we read. The broad idea is that we challenge the illustrators to condense what they hear into a story that can be told in just a few panels. It will show us exactly what words and pictures can do, and how the narrative merits of each can create lovely tension. One of Illicit Ink’s greatest strengths is your belief in variation and versatility. What is your ethos for designing events? We like to keep things as fresh and vibrant as possible, which is why our events are themed. Writers absolutely have to come up with something new every time, which creates a lovely unstable vibe. Anything could happen. Ultimately, all that matters to us is that we make the best possible show. And that we’ve all had a good chance to guddle about in the dark. [Daniel Davies]
Photography: Jassy Earl
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Photography: Kat Gollock
Be Unbound every night of the Edinburgh International Book Festival in the Guardian Spiegeltent, Charlotte Square Gardens. Events start at 9pm, and are free and unticketed. Best get there early if you want a seat
Sun 11 Aug
Multiples To celebrate the UK publication of the translation-themed issue of McSweeney’s he guest edited in 2012, novelist Adam Thirlwell and acclaimed translator Daniel Hahn improvise a wild multilingual evening. Featuring individual tasks and collective games; a sentence snaking round the room in every language possible; and short texts being remade in the languages spoken by the audience including mime and gesture.
Mon 12 Aug
Ljodahått Created by the Norwegian actor Magne Havard Brekke, Ljodahått are a musical collective that gives new life to some of Norway’s finest poetry from Henrik Ibsen to Knut Hamsun. Think of the soaring sound of Arcade Fire coupled with the dark cabaret of Tom Waits. Strange, ethereal, compelling and all wrapped up in a gorgeous book and CD.
Tue 13 Aug
Best of Young British Novelists 2013 2013 saw Granta’s fourth installment of their Best Young British Novelist Series highlighting the 20 most exciting authors under the age of 40 in the UK today. To celebrate, a night of readings brings together some of the very best of the writers: Jenni Fagan steps onto the stage with The Panopticon; Sarah Hall’s novels have been shortlisted for the Booker, the Commonwealth Prize and the Arthur C Clarke Award; Evie Wyld arrives with All the Birds, Singing, a novel which follows her prize-winning debut.
Wed 14 Aug
John Lemke & Poppy Ackroyd with Writers’ Bloc In TV and film, musicians have to work within a framework built by the writer; to respond to and underscore the drama and emotion demanded by the text. For Jura Unbound, the Edinburgh collective Writers’ Bloc turn that on its head and present new work inspired by Poppy Ackroyd’s debut album, Escapement, and John Lemke’s debut album, People Do. Enjoy John and Poppy’s live sets in the cosy and atmospheric Guardian Spiegeltent while taking a journey of the imagination in this unique event.
Thu 15 Aug
Kevin MacNeil & Willie Campbell Long-time friends and artistic collaborators, Kevin MacNeil and Willie Campbell last year produced the album Visible From Space, and they’ll bring together their songs and stories for a special night of Jura Unbound. Kevin is an acclaimed novelist, poet and playwright born and raised in the Outer Hebrides. His works include The Stornoway Way and Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides. Willie was lead singer and guitarist with Astrid. He still tours both as a solo artist and as a member of The Open Day Rotation.
Fri 16 Aug
Dan Rhodes The author of eight books, each one a delightful discovery, each one unlike the other, Dan Rhodes delights in defying expectations, subverting conventions and finding humour in the darkest moments. Unsurprisingly, he is not a man for the regular Book
Festival event. Instead we have created a special Unbound night to celebrate his work and for Dan to bring together some of his favourite authors, comedians and musicians featuring Bob Servant creator Neil Forsyth, singer-songwriter Richard James, formerly of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and a very special guest…
Sat 17 Aug
Alan Bissett/80s The 80s: hard times and guilty pleasures, cassette tapes and hair gel, picket lines and protest, and the birth of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was the decade that shaped a generation, and it did so in dubious fashions. Led by Alan Bissett’s radical feminist and anti-porn campaigner, Andrea Dworkin, this Jura Unbound evening takes a look back at that era, its wonders and horrors.
Sun 18 Aug
Out There Gutter, the country’s leading magazine of new writing, hosts a night of queerness to mark the official announcement of Out There, a new state of the nation book of LGBT writing planned for 2014. Out There editor Zoë Strachan is joined by Damian Barr, author of the acclaimed and controversial Maggie and Me, and emerging writers Kirsty Logan and Allan Radcliffe, for stories, music and more.
Mon 19 Aug
Reel Iraq: The Golden Hour Revel in a special evening of contemporary Iraqi culture, to mark ten years since the invasion of Iraq, with poetry, theatre and music. Featuring acclaimed Iraqi poets Sabreen Kadhim (coming direct from Baghdad) and Ghareeb Iskander, accompanied by new translations from renowned Scotland-based poets Krystelle Bamford, John Glenday, Jen Hadfield and William Letford; compelling theatre from Dina Moussawi and Iraqi Choobi dance music. This event is supported in part by Creative Scotland and LIFT Festival.
Tue 20 Aug
Back To The Future With The Bookshop Band The Bookshop Band, fresh from touring Paris, Ireland and the UK bring their unique musical take on contemporary fiction to Jura Unbound. The band have been writing songs inspired by the books of the authors coming to their local bookshop, Mr Bs Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. Songs are picked from their vast repertoire and themed around the Book Festival’s 30 year anniversary.
Wed 21 Aug
Five Dials Unwind To The 90s Join a secret selection of writers and musicians (we’ve lured in Colm Tóibín and Ross Raisin in the past) as we look back at the 90s and launch the latest issue of the world’s favourite literary magazine, Five Dials, which will be sent out to subscribers around the world from the stage. A very special guest will press the send button. It could even be someone from the 90s, though we guarantee Courtney Love will not be in attendance.
Thu 22 Aug
This Is The Modern World Join Faber Social for an evening of stories, music and performance with a heady and decadent collection of acts including Booker Prize-winning DBC Pierre reading his new work Petit Mal; filmmaker, author and Culture Show presenter Michael Smith premiering his new book Unreal City accompanied by an exclusive soundtrack by legendary producer and DJ Andrew Weatherall; plus Luke Wright will hop over from the Fringe to put the world to rights as only he can. @fabersocial
Fri 23 Aug
Literary Death Match Literary Death Match are back but this time with speech bubbles and extra Kappow! to present an extra special comic cartoon caper. The live show brings together four authors to read their most electric writing for seven minutes or less before a panel of three all-star judges. The two finalists then compete in a vaguely literary competition (think ‘Pin the Moustache on Hemingway’) to determine who takes home the Literary Death Match crown.
Sat 24 Aug
Illicit Ink and Graphic Scotland: Tales from the Strip Graphic Scotland and Illicit Ink combine stories on the page with illustrators on the stage – while our writers read, our guest cartoonists and graphic novelists draw what they hear. Performers include Stephen Collins, author of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil and comic artist Emma Vieceli whose work includes Manga Shakespeare and Vampire Academy. Art materials are provided but feel free to bring your own.
Sun 25 Aug
Songs in the Key of Fife Vic Galloway, BBC broadcaster, journalist and champion of the Scottish music scene, has written Songs in the Key of Fife, which documents the amazing story of the Fence Collective. In recent years the music industry has been defined by its much publicised decline, with creativity consumed by the mass market, but for the past two decades, in a little place across the water, a group of musicians have been building and battling against this. Join Vic and some special guests for a memorable night of music to celebrate the book’s publication.
Mon 26 Aug
Robots Dream of Electric Tales Electric Tales is a cabaret of comedy storytelling, usually based at the Stand Comedy Club, but braving it down the road to the Book Festival for one night only. Tonight they imagine the future like we thought it would be, when robots were proper robots with square heads and beeping and moon boots. Hosted by Sian Bevan.