Edinburgh International Book Festival: 2022 preview

As Edinburgh International Book Festival returns with a programme of in-person and streamed events, we pull out a few highlights

Feature by Heather McDaid | 27 Jun 2022
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival Launch

'All Together Now' is the rallying cry of 2022’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. It's a testament to where we are in our quote unquote return to normal, bringing authors from the world over back to the capital, and inviting readers to join in person and via their streamed events. We know by now what the last two years has taken from us, what has irreversibly changed, so in the spirit of getting together once more, here’s as many highlights we can squeeze in to do just that.

The festival wastes no time: day one, two icons of Scottish fiction – Ali Smith and Val McDermid – delve into the former’s seasonal quartet (13 Aug, 5,30pm), while David Keenan, author of ambitious This Is Memorial Device, discusses his new novel set in that same hallucinatory world (13 Aug, 8.30pm). Mieko Kawakami beams in remotely to traverse her work, including Breasts and Eggs and All the Lovers in the Night (16 Aug, 2.15pm). A literary wonder.

Photo of author Ali Smith.
Ali Smith. Photo: Sarah Wood

We turn from translation to climate change’s personal and political nature with Jessica Gaitán Johannesson and Amanda Thomson (16 Aug, 2.15pm), before the inimitable Marlon James invites us into his Dark Star trilogy (16 Aug, 7.30pm), following the witch Sogolon, who bows to no man.

The pandemic saw many turn their hand to something new – knitting, baking bread – but comedians Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle traded jokes for fiction. A double whammy sees Bridges on The Black Dog, following an aspiring writer hoping to escape ever-darkening thoughts (17 Aug, 5.30pm), while Boyle’s thriller Meantime tracks a man trying to find justice for his murdered friend (17 Aug, 8.30pm).

From comedy to music, Britpop legend Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker will revisit his life’s greatest hits so far in Good Pop, Bad Pop (18 Aug, 8.30pm), as acclaimed essayist Sinéad Gleeson, who co-created This Woman's Work on women who changed the face of music with Kim Gordon, will be joined by contributor Ottessa Moshfegh (24, 8.15pm). PJ Harvey has turned her attention from writing music to penning a long form poem, Orlam, six years in the making, and will be appearing in Central Hall (20 Aug, 9.15pm) in an event supported by The Skinny.

Some of Scotland’s most exciting authors of the last few years will descend: Jenni Fagan talks on witchy historical novella Hex (18 Aug, 4pm), Graeme Macrae Burnet moves from Booker-shortlisted His Bloody Project to the psychoanalytical 1960s in Case Study to question truth itself (19 Aug, 1pm), while Chitra Ramaswamy’s Homelands documents the life and friendship of Henry Wuga, who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 (21 Aug, 1pm). Booker winner Douglas Stuart returns to talk Young Mungo, the tale of two boys on opposite sides of the sectarian divide in 1990s Glasgow (28 Aug, 5.30pm).

Star Alan Cumming will regale audiences with his most recent book Baggage (21 Aug, 5pm), while Torrey Peters will grace the festival with her presence after last year’s remote event (sponsored by The Skinny), to talk about the sensation Detransition, Baby with Josie Giles (22 Aug, 8pm). Peters also joins Imogen Binnie of the ground-breaking Nevada and Lote's Shola von Reinhold to discuss a golden age of trans fiction (24 Aug, 8pm).

Contemporary powerhouse Ottessa Moshfegh, author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, will transport readers to the feudalist village beset by natural disasters in Lapvona (23 Aug, 5pm). Another sparkling event will be the celebration of Michael Pedersen's prose debut Boy Friends, a love letter to male friendship, alongside Garbage's Shirley Manson, and Charlotte Church (24 Aug, 7pm).

Poetry is there in abundance too with some linguistic brilliance: Jazz Money and Andrés N Ordorica (13 Aug, 6.15pm), Alycia Pirmohamed and Jay Gao (13 Aug, 6.30pm), Raymond Antrobus (19 Aug, 12.15pm), Ada Limón (23 Aug, 5.30pm), Hollie McNish and Joelle Taylor (23 Aug, 7pm), and Hannah Lavery (26 Aug, 12.15pm), to name but a few.

Photo of Hollie McNish, wearing a woolen sweater and smiling.
Hollie McNish. Photo: Hollie McNish

With more opportunities to get all together again - whether in-person at their new College of Art venue, or digitally tuning in to catch something special - there’s plenty to choose from at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. Let’s celebrate.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2022 runs 13-29 Aug