Jura Unbound 2013: An Introduction

Feature by Roland Gulliver | 02 Jul 2013

It is 2013 and the Edinburgh International Book Festival is celebrating its 30th birthday. If the Book Festival is the respectable adult of Charlotte Square Gardens, then Jura Unbound is its scruffy tearaway tyke of an offspring. At the tender age of four, it is a bookish bairn, a literary toddler, beginning to find its voice but still susceptible to creating a bit of chaos.

The essence of Unbound has always been to do something a little different, to offer authors a different space to tell their stories, to explore the relationship between literature, music and performance. 2013 is no different so among this year’s events is Multiples, a compilation of 12 stories, translated by 60 writers; Adam Thirlwell brings the process to life on stage through your participation. Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists for 2013 is celebrated and Dan Rhodes, never a man for literary convention, hosts a night of readings and performances. A special strand of events on graphic novels and comics called Stripped is taking place at the Book Festival in 2013 and Jura Unbound offers its own interpretation: a Literary Death Match cartoon spectacular and Illicit Ink, who bring comics alive on stage.

There’s also a night of stories and songs with Scottish poet and novelist Kevin MacNeil in a musical collaboration with Willie Campbell; John Lemke and Poppy Ackroyd create a unique fusion of their music with the stories of Writers Bloc; Ljodahatt, a Norwegian musical collective, who defy explanation, bring poems to life and play a mean wine glass solo.

Like the petulant child we are, we want to play the grown-ups’ game, so Jura Unbound has embraced the Book Festival’s theme of 30 years back, 30 years forward. We will journey through the decades and into the future. From Alan Bissett’s latest incarnation, Andrea Dworkin, heading up our 80s night; to celebrating 20 years of the Fence Collective, and finally heading back to the future with Electric Tales, to remember how technology was supposed to be – clunky and chunky and never going to take over the world.

We reflect the changing times of the last 30 years. Gutter magazine launch their new collection of LBGT writing 20 years after the publication of Footsteps & Witnesses and The Reel Festivals Iraq marks ten years since the invasion of Iraq with a riot of poetry, theatre and music.

Come and join us every night at 9pm in the atmospheric Guardian Spiegeltent for the literary equivalent of a sleepover pyjama party. 16 nights of surprises, discovery and literary entertainment await. It’s free and the bar stays open late.

And remember, many of the authors and artists in Jura Unbound can be discovered in the main programme. If something inspires you here, take a look at the Book Festival’s website too, you’ll find complementary events – not quite as raw but just as intoxicating. Go and find them and find more like them, you won’t be disappointed.