EdBookFest Day 15 – Politics, Literature & Dreams of the World

In which Anna meets many grand authors, including a Queen’s Gold Medal winner and a Nobel Laureate, eats cake, listens to some fine tunes and approaches ideas overload.

I went to the Canongate Books Pop-Up Bookshop, where acclaimed poet Don Paterson and novelist Adam Levin were talking about books that inspire them. There was cake.

Don told us of his love for the work of Jorges Luis Borges, reading a mind-twisting piece from The Labyrinth, while Adam hit us with George Saunders’ ‘Isabelle’, the tale of a vulnerable girl surrounded by poverty, violence, racism and tender acts of kindness.

Canongate’s books are so beautiful – I’m fortunate to have made it out of there with just two titles. I began my collection of Canons by purchasing the short stories of Muriel Spark, with foreword by Janice Galloway.

After much deliberation, I went for this very copy of the grey jacketed edition of Adam’s The Instructions.

Former CIA agent Michael Scheuer was in debate with Pakistan-based journalist Declan Walsh, about the post-9/11 world. Topics included drone attacks, rendition, energy policy, democracy and the Arab revolutions: the event was covered by The Guardian‘s chief arts writer Charlotte Higgins.

The audience was engaged, and very mixed – it was good to have a debate that was thoughtful, contentious, controversial and wide-ranging. I may be fundamentally opposed to many of the viewpoints raised, but I do appreciate the opportunity for measured discussion of major issues that affect the world we live in.

In 1987 Gao Xingjian left his home in China for France and has not been back since: even his name is banned from being printed in the nation of his birth.

The Nobel Prize for Literature recipient spoke in French about his career – how when he paints he cannot read a book; how he plans weeks in advance what music to listen to as he works; how he dreams in the language he works in. He told us about the difficulties on translating his work – the same work in chinese or French is fact a very different text – and spoke about how the ideas are not restricted by the concepts of artforms. his most recent work is written as a ‘libretto for dance performance.’

Folk favourite James Yorkston was in conversation with music fan Ian Rankin about his book It’s Lovely to Be Here, before taking to the stage for Unbound with The Pictish Trail and Lisa O’Neill.

The evening was funny and sweet and full of beautiful songs – you can tell these musicians work together often and know each other’s work well. The snippets of Hot Chip and The Proclaimers raised a laugh as well as applause, and there was plenty of cheeky banter with the crowd. Check out these fine musicians via the Fence Collective, the Fife-based micro-indie record label.

Daily Shoe Challenge

There was a coppery shine to the day, as I wore these metallic lovelies. They gleam a little in the Spiegeltent lighting, but are pictured here in one of the empty theatre tents.

It’s best of three with shoe challenger Ian Rankin – it’s all arranged for Monday evening, at the performance of Alasdair Gray’s Fleck.

After the Fest, there will be a public vote for your favourite shoes – from both challengers and my own collection.

The Shoe Challenge So Far >

Author Sara Sheridan wore fabulous blue heels, which she offered to give me as they are a tad painful, while Front of House Manager Dom Hastings wore wellies, which he later changed for very smart shoes.

You may remember Dom’s farmhouse jumper from Day 10.


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Recent Stories

EdBookFest Day 14 – Jackie Kay, Jenni Murray & the Scottish Book Awards

EdBookFest Day 13 – Myths, Monsters and Chimney Pots

EdBookFest Day 12 – Mystery Book Sculptures & a Shoe Showdown

EdBookFest Day 11 – Soul Stealing, Story Shop & the Electric Lit Orchestra

EdBookFest Day 10 – Chairing, Yarns & a Literary Death Match

EdBookFest Day 9 – Pop-Up Bookshops, Sporting Obsessions and Author Portraits

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