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Edinburgh International Book Festival online

Published: 31 Jul 2020

Edinburgh Book Festival Free Online 15 - 31 August

Edinburgh International Book Festival Keeps the Conversation Going With over 140 online events this August


The Edinburgh International Book Festival today invited authors and audiences from around the world to Keep the Conversation Going as organisers announced over 140 online events for adults and children over 17 days in August. From Saturday 15 to Monday 31 August, the Book Festival presents live conversations, discussions and readings from 200 authors and illustrators coming together from over 30 countries around the world. All events, which cross continents, time zones and genres, are free to access through the Book Festival’s website. 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.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, 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. 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.

“Thanks to the continued and generous support of so many of our funding partners and sponsors, including the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, Baillie Gifford and players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and of course our loyal and adventurous audience, we are able to Keep the Conversation Going in August.”

Double Booker Prize Winner Hilary Mantel discusses the final novel in her trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, recently longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, 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 joining the online Festival line-up includes Maggie O’Farrell dissecting her first historical novel Hamnet, Val McDermid launching the latest in her thrilling Karen Pirie series in conversation with Joan Bakewell, Alexander McCall Smith who chats with the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson and Douglas Stuart who brings his stunning debut novel Shuggie Bain, a love song to 1980’s Glasgow now longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. Kirstin Innes talks about Scabby Queen, Kapka Kassabova and Gavin Francis explore borders created by lakes and islands while Andrés N Ordorica, Courtney Stoddart and Heather H Yeung are amongst writers in a Scottish BAME Writers Network showcase looking at Scotland’s literary heritage - past, present and future.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Edinburgh International Book Festival has long been a highlight of the Edinburgh Festivals’ calendar, bringing together some of the world’s finest authors and the best of contemporary Scottish talent. I am pleased it is able to continue to Keep the Conversation Going in 2020, bringing writers and audiences together online to stimulate debate and raise Scotland’s cultural profile on the international stage. The Scottish Government has been continuing its support for the festival, and since 2008 has provided over £1.3 m of funding through its Festivals EXPO fund."

Stephanie Kerr, programmes advisor at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Edinburgh International Book Festival is such a key event in the cultural calendar and it’s incredible that this year will be no different with the line-up of events planned – despite being fully online. I’m so pleased that funding raised by our players is able to continue supporting the Citizen project to ensure that local voices are included in the conversation, now taking place at a global level.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We are proud to support the Edinburgh International Book Festival and that we’ll be able to Keep the Conversation Going during the current extraordinary circumstances. The endurance of the Festivals is essential to a successful future for the city and I am delighted that over 140 online events, including live conversations, discussions and readings for all ages, will take place. More than ever at this time, I believe that books and stories play an extremely important role in providing many of us with escapism and comfort as well as a sense of connection. I look forward to seeing the festival atmosphere being recreated online.”

Full details of the 2020 Online Edinburgh International Book Festival can be found at edbookfest.co.uk and all events are free to watch through the Book Festival website. A number of 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.

Mairi Kidd, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing at Creative Scotland said, “In a context of enormous challenge the team at Edinburgh International Book Festival have created a bold and lively programme bringing audiences in Scotland and around the world together with writers, artists and other thinkers to explore pressing issues and the power of the imagination to sustain us. In the digital space these events have the potential to reach vast new audiences and we hope that this year's programme will open the doors to many more fans for the future."

Media Contact


Frances Sutton, Press Manager
Edinburgh International Book Festival
07841 579481 or frances@edbookfest.co.uk