Edinburgh International Book Festival Picks

Submitted by Jo Clarke on Fri, 11 Jul '08 9.53pm

The Edinburgh International Book Festival pitches camp in Charlotte Square Gardens this year between 9th and 25th
August, hosting a staggering 800 authors from around the world. The quality and range of authors always draws wide interest, and this year is no exception. Following the launch of ticket sales last month, heavy traffic made the web site inaccessible for a while and a good number of events have already sold out.

Even though tickets for many of the big draws such as Salman Rushdie, Sean Connery (launching his biography written by friend and filmmaker Murray Grigor), Margaret Atwood, and Ian Rankin and the "Mystery Guest" are no longer available, EdinburghGuide.com's picks reveal plenty of events of interest which still have tickets available.

Politics and World Affairs

Foreign political commentators and journalists offer their
perspectives on some of the pressing concerns of contemporary world
politics. Robert Kagan (22 August
3.30pm), American political commentator and foreign policy advisor to Senator
John McCain should present quite a different set of questions to those offered
by Lawrence Freedman & David Ryan (18 August 12 noon) who look at US
foreign policy in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq as part of the War
and Terror
thematic grouping of events.
British involvement is covered by Solomon Hughes, Jeremy Scahill and
Bob Shepherd
(19 August 11.00am, Peppers Theatre), who look at corporate
profiteering, mercenary firm Blackwater, and other commercial security

Particularly topical is the East and West series
exploring relations between the west and the Islamic world. Events of note include Jane Frere, Ilan
Pappe and Raja Shehadeh
(9 August 3.30pm) who focus on the exodus of the
Palestinian population on the 60th anniversary of the founding of
Israel. Russell Razzaque (9
August 12.30pm) looks at the rise of Islamic suicide bombing.

A number of correspondents report from conflict zones around
the world. James Fergusson & Sean Rayment (15 August 11.00am) bring journalists'
accounts of the British involvement in Afghanistan, including testimonies from
the soldiers in the killing zones of Helmand.
In remembrance of assassinated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Arkady
Babchenko and Åsne Seierstad
(24 August 12 noon) offer a soldier's account
of life at the front line, and a correspondent's perspective on the effects of
war on Chechyna. Matthew Green (10 August 11.00am, Peppers Theatre), Reuters journalist, investigates Joseph
Kony, the infamous leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army in The Wizard of
the Nile: The Hunt for Africa's Most Wanted

This year's Focus on China theme has provoked
early interest, with sold-out events by Tianaman Square protestor Diane Wei
Liang, Chiew-Siah Tei, and analysts Mark Leonard and Rana Mitter. You can still find your way into the
conversation, however, with Orange short-listed Xialu Guo Xiaolu Guo
17 August 6.45pm) who draws on her own experience as a film-maker in her
novel, 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth about a young woman who travels
1800 miles from her dusty village to seek her fortune. Another option is Yiyun Li (11 August
7.00pm) with her acclaimed collection of stories, A ThousandYears of Good
. She talks about her writing and the challenges of being a writer
in exile.

For non-fiction, Sun Shuyun (25 August 6.45pm)
offers A Year In Tibet, her personal account of a remote Tibetan village known for its anti-Chinese
stance. Jonathan Fenby, John Keay
& John Man
(12 August 12 noon) provide expert insight into a broad
range of Chinese historical development.


If famous authors of fiction draw your attention, tickets
are still available (at the time of writing) for the following: Louis de
Bernières, Julian Barnes, Tony Parsons, Anne Enright, James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, Alan
Sillitoe and Will
(24 August 1.30pm) brings his new post-9/11 dystopic novel, The

Personal Picks

Hanif Kureishi (17 August 11.30am), author of The
Buddha of Suburbia
, presents his latest work, Something to Tell You,
which explores love, sex, and race.

David Malouf (23 September 7.00pm, Traverse Theatre) should prove
a post-festival treat. This
award-winning Australian author, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and
IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, brings his latest collection of stories, Every
Move You Make.

New Events

Popular author Alexander McCall Smith (23
August 6.30pm RBS Main Theatre) will appear at this additional time, and Clive
(21 August 11.30am, RBS
Main Theatre)
returns to the festival.

Scottish Authors

Scottish authors are well-represented
at the festival with over 200 names, including the award-winning James Meek (13 August
5.00pm) with the novel We Are Now Beginning Our
, based on his own experience as a Guardian war
correspondent in Afghanistan. For a more intimate focus, Sophie Cook's (19 August
10.15am) Under the Mountain follows a
young girl's introduction to young love.

The Rest

During its August run the Edinburgh Book Festival is like a kind of literary village, with its cafe, book shops, kids area, and pleasant, grassy, outdoor seating area. It doesn't cost anything to go to the book fest, and if you are at a loose end and the sun is out, it's a great place to get between the covers or pick up a free Times newspaper (one of this year's Edinburgh Book Festival sponsors) and plan your next move on the Edinburgh festival at large.

You will also find the Book Festival's Art in the Garden project, which will present a series of works on the theme of
climate change by Glasgow School of
Art graduate Ric Warren.

Many more themes and authors can be explored at the festival
website (see releated links) where
you will also find the extensive list of events for children and further
details on all events.