Edinburgh Book Festival goes online for 2020

The Edinburgh Book Festival's online programme kicks off this weekend – we take a look at what's in store

Feature by Peter Simpson | 13 Aug 2020
  • Edinburgh Book Festival

In normal times, the Edinburgh Book Festival is an oasis of relative calm within the chaos of August. The well-organised bookshops, the deckchairs, the mild anarchy of the Unbound late-night events, the covered walkways that keep people moving/ discourage them from running facefirst into one another. Things may be a tad different this year, but the Book Festival's online programme has a pair of aces up its sleeve – there are no capacity issues or fears about events immediately selling out, and every event in the online programme is free to attend. 

Here are a few highlights worth checking out across the festival, which runs from 15-31 August at edbookfest.co.uk

Amelia Gentleman: Windrush – A Very British Betrayal

As the UK Government pursue disgusting anti-refugee policies to distract from how badly they're fucking up everything they touch, it's a good time to revisit another of the UK's bouts of aggressive institutional racism – the Windrush scandal.

The Guardian's Amelia Gentleman, whose reporting helped bring the government's mistreatment of the Windrush generation to light, discusses her new book The Windrush Betrayal. Sun 16 Aug, 7pm – watch here

Dean Atta & George Lester: Shine On

The art of drag sits near the heart of the coming-of-age debut novels from both Atta (The Black Flamingo) and Lester (Boy Queen). The authors discuss their work here, with a viewer Q+A session to follow. Thu 20 Aug, 5.30pm – watch here

Lola Olufemi & Minna Salami: Critical Reflections on Feminism

Lola Olufemi is co-founder of FLY, Cambridge University’s network for women and non-binary people of colour, and an organiser at London Feminist Library; Minna Salami is a Nigerian-Finnish author, lecturer and journalist. The authors will discuss inclusion within activism, and how to create a feminism that serves all women. Fri 21 Aug, 7pm – watch here

Joshua Wong: Hong Kong’s Champion for Democracy

The co-founder of student activist group Scholarism and one of the figureheads of the Umbrella Movement protests against the Chinese government's actions in Hong Kong, Joshua Wong is in conversation with Human Rights Watch's China Director Sophie Richardson. Sun 23 Aug, 1pm – watch here

Wayétu Moore: Setting Liberia’s History Free

We're delighted to be sponsoring this event, with Liberian-American author Wayétu Moore introducing her magic realism-tinged retelling of the origins of modern Liberia. Moore discusses She Would Be King with Fringe of Colour's Jessica Brough. Wed 26 Aug, 4pm – watch here

Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?

A multi-art spectacular with contributions from the brilliant playwright and performer Travis Alabanza, author Kit de Wall, filmmaker Paul Sng, actor Valerie Edmond, and Rebus author Ian Rankin. Not to be missed. Fri 28 Aug, 2.30pm – watch here

Should Capitalism Survive Climate Change?

We'd say 'no', but then we aren't on the panel. Instead, you'll hear from former UN Climate Secretary Christiana Figueres, New York Times reporter Somini Sengupta, and human rights lawyer Julian Aguon, discussing ways to shape a fair and sustainable future. Sat 29 Aug, 5.30pm – watch here

Paul Mendez & Derek Owusu: Thorny Intersections

Two incredibly exciting young, Black British novelists discuss their work in this panel. We gave the full five-star treatment to Mendez's "powerful, thrilling and accomplished debut novelRainbow Milk just before lockdown; Owusu's That Reminds Me tackles issues of addiction, racism and trauma. The authors are joined by the former Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid. Sun 30 Aug, 7pm – watch here

Kayus Bankole & Kei Miller: Outriders Africa from East to West

Bankole – poet, writer and one-third of Young Fathers – is joined by writer Kei Miller, as the duo discuss their travels across Ethiopia and Ghana as part of the Book Festival's Outriders Africa project. Mon 31 Aug, 11.30am – watch here

Scottish BAME Writers Network Showcase: Scotland's Heritage, Then and Now

The Scottish BAME Writers Network continue their excellent work with this showcase of some of Scotland's best verse talent. Saltire Poetry Book of the Year winner Janette Ayachi, Scottish Voice for 2020 playwright and poet Hannah Lavery, performance poet Courtney Stoddart, and poet and lecturer Heather H. Yeung all feature. Mon 31 Aug, 5.30pm – watch here