EdBookFest Day 7 – Literary Prize Winners and the Battle of the Shoes

Day Seven was most international. I met a group of writers from Utrecht – we talked about Edinburgh’s literary organisations, our great live lit nights and the Dutch authors appearing at the Festival.

Utrecht is aiming to be a European Capital of Culture in 2018, hence the postcard they gave me, along with the most recent translation of a Cees Nooteboom novel.

In the afternoon, I chatted to the Irish Minister for Culture about the plans for Dublin City of Literature and the IMPAC prize: he has grand plans for a Literature Centre of Excellence.

The IMPAC may have more cash than the Edinburgh version, but our James Tait Black Awards are the oldest in the UK, run by the first-ever English Literature Department, created 249 years ago at Edinburgh University.

We gathered to congratulate James Tait Black winners Hilary Spurling, for her Burying the Bones biography, and debut author Tatjana Soli, for The Lotus Eaters. Hilary happily hugged her husband, emotionally telling us she had a new grandchild arrive just that morning, while Tatjana was overwhelmed by the list of previous winners, including D H Lawrence, Graham Greene, Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith.


I love Unbound – it’s the epitomy of an exciting, fun, artistic evening that fills you with new thoughts.

Tonight was Dummy Jim, full of music, film, sign language and readings, and I got to ring the bell for it – quite literally. Lucky folk were given bicycle bells, and the soft ‘bringggg’ filled the air as the musicians played.


Daily Shoe Challenge

It was a day for red, and after a straw poll on Twitter, I went for suede rather than patent leather.

My colleague Ali set up this pic, with pink lemonade next to the Main Theatre – the Alexander McCall-Smith fans filing in to the RBS tent watched us with confusion, and perhaps a touch of jealousy – we were holding saucers of champagne.

These shoes are by local shop Helen Bateman, which annually creates a Charity Shoe, sending all profits to a chosen good cause.

The Shoe Challenge So Far >

Finally, I have challengers to the Shoe Extravaganza – the competition stepped up in the shape of book artist and travelling bookbinder Rachel Hazell. As a combat technique, I wore a hat-thing I made myself.

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