Edinburgh Book Festival reveals first events for 2024

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has corralled some hugely popular authors for its new programme The Front List, with Richard Osman, Salman Rushdie and Dolly Alderton among the best-sellers due to appear at McEwan Hall

Article by Jamie Dunn | 16 Apr 2024
  • McEwan Hall

No one could accuse the Edinburgh International Book Festival of going niche with their new series, The Front List. After all, it is taking place in the huge McEwan Hall, so seats need to be filled. With today's announcement of a clutch of best-selling authors coming to Edinburgh to appear as part of The Front List, they’re sure to do just that. 

In total, nine Front List events are planned at McEwan Hall throughout August, kicking off with the sure-to-be delightful reunion of Alan Cumming and Forbes Masson on 10 August. Those who came of age in the 90s will fondly remember The High Life, Cumming and Masson’s hilariously camp and wildly surreal sitcom about two obnoxious flight attendants. For this show, they’ll be discussing even older characters: ​​Victor and Barry, which they performed to great acclaim in the 80s at the Fringe. They’ll be sharing some hilarious tales about this cult comedy double-act, which you can read more about in Victor and Barry’s Kelvinside Compendium, out this summer from the mighty 404 Ink.

The rest of the season is filled with authors who are no strangers to The Times' best-seller list. Pugnacious LBC presenter James O’Brien will discuss his book How They Broke Britain on 12 August. Alice Oseman, who’s behind the cult teen graphic novel Heartstopper, takes the stage on 13 August. Author and columnist Dolly Alderton drops by on 14 August with her second novel Good Material, and prolific historical novelist Philippa Gregory explores her epic new take on feminist history in her new non-fiction title Normal Women on 22 August.

Irish author Sarah Crossan, who’s best known for her YA novels, will appear as part of a special event for secondary school students on 21 August. Perhaps the biggest name on The Front List is Salman Rushdie. The Booker Prize-winner will be beaming in from his home in New York to talk about his new memoir, Knife (17 Aug). Throw in Richard Osman (24 Aug) and Matt Haig (25 Aug), who’ll both be discussing mint-fresh work for the first time anywhere, and you have yourself a list of people we can undoubtedly describe as well-known.

Outwith Cumming and Masson, there are no Scottish authors on The Front List, but the Book Festival have lined up several great Scottish writers to host these events. The chairs announced so far are Jackie Kay, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Wren James, Mishal Husain and Chitra Ramaswamy, with more to be confirmed.

This year will be something of a relaunch for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It has a new venue, in the Edinburgh Futures Institute inside the restored Royal Infirmary, and a new director in Jenny Niven. In today’s press release, Niven said: “These are just the first of our 2024 events, with a further incredible 500-plus still to be announced. Our Front List lineup gives a taste of what's to come ranging from history to mystery, hope to romance, politics to comedy – and featuring some of the best interviewers in the business, including Mishal Husain and our very own Jackie Kay.”

Tickets for The Front List events go on sale at 10am on Thu 25 Apr. More info at edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on