Welcome to Unbound 2012
So what happens when you survive ‘second album syndrome’? Where do you go next – stadium tours, mid-table obscurity or fade into oblivion with the jazz folk fusion triple album experiment? It was questions like these, or their literary equivalents, that we asked ourselves after the success of Unbound at the 2011 Edinburgh International Book Festival. There was dancing, magic, mistimed fireworks and a man standing reading on a ladder. In amongst that, there was an array of beautiful music, and wonderful readings from writers and musicians both known and new. And, finally, there were our audiences, inspired, impassioned, excited and entertained by literature, crowding in night after night into our magical Guardian Spiegeltent.
For the 2012 programme, we have resisted the temptation to kick-back with cocktails and do the same again. We have made some great friends over the two years of Unbound and as much as we would love to hang out with them every night, it is important to remember why we created Unbound: to challenge ourselves, our authors and audiences; to create something new, exciting and slightly chaotic. All of it inspired by storytelling and books.
So with that mantra ringing in our ears we set about creating Unbound in 2012. A lot has happened over the Unbound years with live literature continuing to evolve, the changing nature of performance, the differing dynamics of publishing, and the continuing revolution of how we consume our culture and literature.
For this year, we have brought a few friends back but we have also gone restlessly searching for new ones: catching some of the best things currently happening in Scotland, inviting a few of the most interesting events happening around the country, and casting our literary scouts far and wide around the world. There must be something in the water in this Olympic year as Unbound 2012 is the most international yet.
From Scotland we welcome the return of Words Per Minute, Glasgow’s finest monthly literary salon who are coming back for a special one off show. We say a very hospitable hello to Illicit Ink, who will be bringing their own brand of storytelling magic to our Spiegeltent, and the Scottish Booktrust celebrating their New Writers Awards on stage, online and maybe even on a Post-It!
We will begin Unbound by studiously doing our Homework, the night of literary miscellany created by the boys of Aisle 16 and to be often found in Bethnal Green. (You may have spied Aisle 16 veteran, Joe Dunthorne on stage last year.) There will be more Londoners loitering around the final weekend with the Faber Social presenting a heady line-up of international authors.
The international flavour is found throughout the Unbound programme: artists from Iceland will be smashing up myth, legend and stereotypes; our Dutch friends will be showing what is mixed together to make the colour orange; and finally it will be Last Orders with a collection of artists from Ireland. If this is not enough, our old friends Irregular will be hosting a night in partnership with the DSC South Asian Literary Festival.
Collaboration continues as 2012 sees the publication of our amazing collection of short stories Elsewhere. To celebrate the launch of this four book boxset we welcome co-publishers – both with Unbound previous – Cargo and McSweeneys to fight it out on stage. Yet more transatlantic battles are programmed with the return of the Literary Death Match; who will be bathed in glory, who will be left bloody and battered?
New technologies are changing how we interact with artists and this year’s Unbound reflects this. Kohl Publishing are launching their first book in October but will be premiering their free app in advance at Unbound. And the multimedia experience that is Electric Voice Phenomena will take your literary preconceptions and reprogramme them into a new piece of art.
And as ever, Unbound is a place for authors to do something a little different. So in amongst all this, Mark Haddon will be escaping his bestseller lifestyle to present his one-man show, music legend Nile Rodgers will be doing a very special gig, and Simone Felice and TM Wolf will be playing and reading together in a one-off performance.
So join us every night at 9pm. It promises to be another amazing 16 nights of having too much fun and staying up far too late, feasting on literature, music and all round good stuff in our Guardian Spiegeltent. What’s more, Unbound is still free! Thanks goes to Culture Ireland, Dutch Foundation for Literature and Icelandic Foundation for Literature for helping to keep it that way.
And remember many of the authors appearing in Unbound can be found elsewhere in the main Book Festival programme. Go and hunt them out, go to their events, read their books! I promise, you won’t be disappointed.