Unbound 2018: The Full Listings

A night-by-night guide to this year's Unbound programme. Events kick off at 9pm in the Book Festival gardens, although you may want to get down early to make sure you get a seat. Each and every event is, of course, free.

Feature by The Skinny | 03 Jul 2018
  • Unbound cover image

Sun 12 August
Andrew Rae and the Music Machines

Horrendous hormones, awkward bodies, and homework: you might remember how bloody awful being a teenager is, and you didn’t even have a moon for a head. Award-winning graphic novelist Andrew Rae’s Moonhead and the Music Machine is a psychedelic, gorgeously illustrated coming-of-age-and-beating-the-bullies story centred on one unusual boy and his gift for making music. Andrew brings a gang of illustrators and musicians for a night of performance and live drawing, with tunes from Aussie outfit Electric Fields.

Mon 13 August
Damian Barr’s Literary Salon

Damian Barr’s Literary Salon is a global sensation which has sold out everywhere from London to New York to Moscow, and finally, it arrives in Edinburgh. North Lanarkshire-born Barr – author of Maggie & Me, a memoir of growing up and coming out in Thatcher’s Britain – is one of the most connected people in the arts, and his Salon has welcomed the likes of Caitlin Moran and Bret Easton Ellis in the past. Join him for a stylish night of songs and stories with plenty of garrulous guests.

Tue 14 August
Imaginary Advice Live

Formally daring and hugely inventive in its approach, Ross Sutherland’s award-winning podcast Imaginary Advice is a colourful sketchpad of new storytelling ideas. Joined tonight by Submarine and The Adulterants author Joe Dunthorne and with live music from the brilliant Jonnie Common, this is the perfect introduction to one of the medium’s most startling successes, and an unmissable celebration for fans of the show. Check out the podcast in advance for a flavour of what to expect.

Wed 15 August
Africa Unbound

A celebration of contemporary voices from across the nations of Africa, journeying beyond stereotypes to interrogate history, politics, the imperial past, ancestors, and the future. Discover dazzling talents from the continent in a night of readings and performances from Zimbabwe’s Novuyo Tshuma, Uganda’s Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and S J Naudé from South Africa, plus Nigerian poet Donna Ogunnaike and Ghanaian percussionist Gameli Tordzro.

Thu 16 August
MacMillan 175: Crafting Curious Minds

In 1843, two sons of Scottish crofters set up MacMillan Publishers to share learning and capture imaginations. 175 years later their company still produces the bestsellers and groundbreakers that shape our literary lives, from The Gruffalo to Kate Tempest. Tonight we celebrate their history and look to the future. Enjoy readings, performances and music from guests including Cooking on a Bootstrap founder and food poverty activist Jack Monroe, and Sharlene Teo, winner of the inaugural Deborah Rogers Writer’s Award for debut novel Ponti.

Fri 17 August
Babble On presents: Out-Spoken Press

After a hugely successful national tour in 2017, acclaimed independent publishing house Out-Spoken Press presents an exclusive spoken word showcase at the Book Festival. Champions of inclusive, radical and multidisciplinary poetry, Out-Spoken can be trusted to deliver a cracking show tackling a wide array of topical themes by some of the most enthralling poet-performers around: Joelle Taylor, Sabrina Mahfouz, Fran Lock, Raymond Antrobus, Bridget Minamore and Anthony Anaxagorou.

Sat 18 August
Babble On’s Ego Trip

Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip are one of the most unpredictable and exciting acts on the circuit. Mik’s lyrical dexterity and the musical range of the band combine to make people laugh, cry, and flail around. BBC 6 Music’s Gideon Coe regularly plays their tunes and John Cooper Clarke called them ‘sensational’. A whirl of music hall, poetry, funk and punk, Ego Trip are the ideal tonic in troubled times. Special guest Luke Wright delivers big-hearted, quick-witted new work too.

Sun 19 August
Calypso King of the Windrush Generation

In 1948 calypso music icon Lord Kitchener arrived in the UK on the Windrush. He was at the forefront of multicultural Britain in the 50s, popularising calypso music and representing a growing Caribbean community facing a hostile environment even then. Poet and musician Anthony Joseph has captured Kitchener’s story and music in Kitch, a mix of fiction, biography and memoir, and tonight Joseph and his band celebrate the man and the Caribbean influences that still thrive in this sceptered isle.

Mon 20 August
INTERROBANG‽ present The Edinburgh Bible

Officially Britain’s Best Spoken Word Show (according to the 2017 Saboteur Awards), Edinburgh’s own INTERROBANG‽ lights up Unbound with a sumptuous night of performance. Join host Ricky Monahan Brown and discover The Edinburgh Bible, a mysterious text that reinvents biblical stories and relocates them in Scottish settings. An award-winning writing cast including Mark Bolsover, Beth Cochrane, Emily Dodd, Jen McGregor and musician Aurora Engine stage a fun and thought-provoking show designed for people of all faiths and none.

Tue 21 August
The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas allows some brilliant researchers to let their most challenging ideas loose on the public. Is obesity crushing the NHS? Can too much education be bad for us? Should we celebrate the death of privacy? Comedian Susan Morrison hosts this boundary-pushing, a potentially world-altering evening of debate and frenzied discussion, which has become a Fringe staple over the past five years.

Wed 22 August
Body Slam: Kiss of Tongues

Coming all the way from Rio, Body Slam is a new kind of poetic performance: a composition of languages both spoken and signed, English and Portuguese. In the poets’ performances sometimes the languages are different, each happening in its own grammar; at other times, they intersect. Grupo Corposinalizante, a Rio-based art group led by Joana Mussi and Cibele Lucena, invent forms of communication, performances and poetic interventions that give visibility to deaf culture.

Thu 23 August
Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers

Last year this criminally good covers act rocked the Book Festival with their bone-chilling talents before setting off on a nationwide tour, and we’re delighted to have them back for their hard-earned encore. A cavalcade of crime writing’s best — Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville, Luca Veste and Doug Johnstone — blow back into town with a refined set and a growing cult following. Lucky we’ve got a bigger Spiegeltent, or it would be murder on the dance floor…

Fri 24 August
Soul Clap its Hands and Sing with Poetry Ireland

Irish and Scottish poets and musicians have always cast a particular spell on each other, as tonight’s collection of creative collaborators prove. Internationally acclaimed Derry poet Colette Bryce and singer Bronagh Gallagher join two of Scotland's finest traditional musicians, Brighde Chaimbeul and Aidan O’Rourke, weaving in and out of each other’s work to spin a tapestry of Celtic music and lyric. Expect a haunting, beautiful night in Charlotte Square Gardens.

Sat 25 August
Set Thought and Voice Free

Barcelona has always been home to poets, those born there and those who have been drawn to live there. It has been sung about, praised and vilified, for its beauty and its darkness. Barcelona City of Literature offers a view of the poetry that has emerged from its historical stones and from some of today’s preoccupations: freedom of expression and lust for life. Poet, Mireia Calafell presents her delicate yet sharp, combative words. While Maria Cabrera and Enric Casasses perform live alongside the band El  Pèsol Feréstec who put music to some of the best poetry written in Catalan over the past centuries through to the contemporary.

Sun 26 August
Night of the Literary Living Dead!

Darkness descends, and with it come monsters. The creature of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein first awoke 200 years ago, and 80 years later Bram Stoker’s Dracula emerged from the crypt – but which is better? Novelist Marcus Sedgwick and gothic expert Dr. Sam George square off in a battle of the beasts. Then travel to the village of Losthope with Gill Arbuthnott and Doug MacDonald for a grizzly live game experience filled with weird experiments, serums and surprises. Could you be the bloodthirsty Count stalking the Spiegeltent?

Mon 27 August
Tae Sup wi' a Fifer

In May the Book Festival travelled to Fife, and now the Kingdom comes to Charlotte Square Gardens for our final night spectacular. Acclaimed singer-songwriter and novelist James Yorkston brings his award-winning folk club to the capital, featuring music from the legendary Sheena Wellington, a special appearance from Richard Dawson and readings from Jamaica’s Poet Laureâte Lorna Goodison and Jeet Thayil, poet and novelist, author of Narcopolis and The Book of Chocolate Saints. Finish the Festival in style with the songs and sounds of international supergroup Yorkston Thorne Khan.

Unbound at the Edinburgh Book Festival, 11-27 August 2018