Unbound 2012: The Events

Feature | 24 Jul 2012

Become Unbound every night from 12-27 August in The Guardian Spiegeltent in Charlotte Square Gardens, as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. All the events are FREE, and no booking is necessary. Each event starts around 9pm and the bar is open until the wee small hours, but turn up early if you want to get a seat as it can get very busy. 

HOMEWORK – Sunday 12 August
Homework, a night of literary cabaret based in East London, relocates to Edinburgh for a night of obsessions. The four Homework residents, and a secret guest, will explore their compulsive sides: Joe Dunthorne writes a letter to the first girl at school he loved (and still loves); Tim Clare raps his favourite niche magazine, Tree News; John Osborne tries to fall in love with every seaside town; Ross Sutherland revisits, again and again, The Crystal Maze.

Glasgow-based lit night Words Per Minute (described by both Radio 4's Front Row and GQ Magazine as one of the best literary salons in the UK) is back at Unbound, and ready to get you hot under the collar. This year, they're all about sensuality, and have brought together a collection of writers and musicians who know how to make you feel... something. The lineup includes Booker-nominated author Sarah Hall, Jenni Fagan (one of this year's Waterstones 11), Scottish Writer of the Year Alan Bissett, and the gorgeous young Scottish-based band Two Wings. As ever, nobody gets longer than ten minutes...

THE FABLE of the HUNGRY ICELANDER – Tuesday 14 August
Iceland: sagas & myths, geysers & volcanic ash, big jumpers & impressively long names, and that frozen food company. The stereotypes are many and probably very irritating for the people that live there, but in recent years Iceland has continually produced a remarkable range of new literary voices creating an exciting contemporary literary scene. This has been capped with Reykjavik, the city of the 'jólabokaflód', becoming UNESCO City of Literature in 2011. Sjón is an award-winning poet, musician, novelist and now Book Festival regular! Join him as he hosts a very special event with some of Iceland’s finest writers and musicians including Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir and Kristín Ómarsdóttir.

MAGIC WORDS – Wednesday 15 August
Edinburgh based Illicit Ink make their Unbound debut with Magic Words, combining spoken word, storytelling and stage magic. Established in 2011, the group has been hosting regular themed nights across the city inviting writers to present prose on particular topics focusing on the dark, the weird and the witty! Gavin Inglis of Underword and Writers’ Bloc fame will compère the evening and Ariadne Cass-Maran, one of Illicit Ink’s founding members and the director of Graphic Scotland will perform pieces with other visiting authors from the Festival.

LAST ORDERS – Thursday 16 August
Presented in partnership with Culture Ireland and the Mountains to the Sea Festival, Last Orders has been created to celebrate Dublin’s status as UNESCO City of Literature. We are telling stories, sharing songs, and carousing late into the night with Unbound. The lyrical genius of Irish writers is well known with song and story living tangled lives in their literature, often fuelled by a tipple or two. This night celebrates these feisty bedfellows bringing together artists and authors whose work has inspired each other's work: whether that is a soundtrack to a story, poetry inspired by a piece of music or a creative collaboration between artists. All are the perfect excuse for just one more for the road.

In 2011 literary pugilists Brookmyre and Letford where embroiled in a numerical battle royale! In 2012, the Literary Death Match returns to these shores from its international travels to see who can win the most sought after title in literature! Four writers must compete to win the hearts and minds of the fickle all-star judging panel, including Greg Proops and Rory Skovel, and you, the noble audience with only their words as their weapons. The two authors who succeed in deftly dazzling all involved go onto a death-defying final round where survival is down to wits alone. Readers will include Nikesh Shukla and Tupelo Hassman. Join your host and LDM founder, Todd Zuniga, for a ringside seat!

NILE RODGERS – Saturday 18 August
Le Freak, Everybody Dance, We are Family, Let’s Dance, Like a Virgin, The Reflex. All songs that define decades of our music history; all songs which Nile Rodgers played on or produced. Often described as one of the people who invented disco, to describe this man as a music legend is no exaggeration. His book Le Freak – An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny is the story of his life, love and the music that defined it all. As part of his visit to Edinburgh, Nile Rodgers will do a very special solo show of songs and stories. 

HIGH INFIDELITY – Sunday 19 August
Bringing a different vice to the Unbound canon, Glasgow-based newcomer Kohl Publishing presents High Infidelity – an evening celebrating adultery in literary fiction. Featuring new writing, scarlet literature from the past, live music with a sensual twist and wayward trivia, the Kohl girls promise to turn The Guardian Spiegeltent into a den of deviance. Kohl will also unveil an enticing digital peepshow – a new reading experience of tantalising downloads, showcasing Elizabeth Reeder’s Fremont, their brilliant debut novel. Watch out for the scarlet letter for giveaways!

CARGO V MCSWEENEYS – Monday 20 August
What happens when you put the two lean mean fighting machines of modern publishing head to head on stage? They have worked together to produce a wonder collection of short stories from around the world, Elsewhere. Originally conceived and commissioned in 2010 by the Book Festival, the book is published this August as a specially designed four volume boxset. Each volume is entitled Here, There, Everywhere and Somewhere – it’s the literary equivalent of The Beatles.  Our Guardian Spiegeltent plays host to a selection of Elsewhere authors, plus a literary ringer, as members of Cargo and McSweeneys face off to decide who gets to be Macca and who has to be Ringo!

SOUTH ASIA UNBOUND – Tuesday 21 August
South Asian writing in English is keenly attuned to the musicality of language. Inspired by a richness of clutures, origins and global influences, the soundtrack to such writing is often wide-ranging and eclectic: Bach to Bhangra, Radiohead to Ravi Shankar. Taking over the Guardian Spiegeltent tonight will be the London based South Asian Literature Festival to create their mixtape of South Asian stories, unbound. Join music journalist Neil Kulkarni as he spins tracks with tales from Hari Kunzru, Kamila Shamsie, Preeta Samarasan and Gautam Malkani.

The idea of reading as a visual activity is being challenged by the rise of interactive and audio books. The Electric Voice Phenomena present four unique performances addressing the nature of stimuli at the intersection of writing, technology and voice. Drawing on the work of Konstantin Raudive and compared by Nathan Jones, this evening of new-media poetry is hard to describe, not to be missed and impossible to forget. Hosted by Mercy and Trigger. mercyonline.co.uk / triggerstuff.co.uk

THE COLOUR ORANGE – Thursday 23 August 
A colourful collaboration of music, spoken word, literature and poetry.  Working with the Dutch Foundation for Literature we have brought together artists for readings and performances reflecting the historical and cultural influences that combine to create Dutch culture. From the historical legacy of its empire in South Africa and Indonesia, to the influence of American culture in the 20th century, and the impact of multicultural Europe in the 21st century. Amongst those performing is Christine Otten, poet and author of the fictional biography of The Ghost Poets, De Laatste Dichters / The Last Poets, the legendary group of Afro-American poets and performers.

Celebrated author, artist and dramatist Mark Haddon presents a one-man talk about great white sharks, cosmology, creative writing, engine fires and ice hockey. 
Haddon’s career includes fifteen books for children, two poetry collections, several adult novels and two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award. Following the event, Mark will be signing copies of his latest novel The Red House, a wonderfully insightful novel about family, estrangement, secrets, loss and the persistent echoes of the past.

FABER SOCIAL – Saturday 25 August
Edinburgh welcomes the Faber Social for an evening of readings and music featuring some of the most exciting new names on the international literary stage. From New York, Nigerian writer, Teju Cole, whose debut novel, Open City, was one of the most talked-about books of 2011. And from Mumbai, Jeet Thayil, whose debut novel, Narcopolis, was described by Alan Warner as "a work we can place on our shelves next to Roberto Bolano, next to G.V.Desani and Hubert Selby." From closer to home – Middlesbrough in fact –we're proud to present the writer described by Irvine Welsh as, "the voice of working class Britain", Richard Milward, reading from his outrageous new novel, Kimberly's Capital Punishment. Simone Felice and TM Wolf complete a fearsome bill of literary outlaws. Music throughout the night will be provided by Heavenly DJs.  

SIMONE FELICE & T M WOLF – Sunday 26 August
A special collaboration of literature and music. Simone Felice appeared in the first Unbound in 2010; since then his reputation as a solo artist has continued to grow. Once of The Felice Brothers and The Duke & the King, his last, eponymously titled, album received huge critical acclaim. In addition, 2011 saw the publication of his debut novel, Black Jesus, the story of a young American soldier trying to find meaning on his return from the Iraq War. TM Wolf has published his debut novel Sound; built on musical notation and modeled after hip-hop beats, it is an innovative first novel set on the New Jersey Shore telling the story of a young man who returns to his hometown only to find that home is not what he remembers it to be. 

Closing Unbound will be an evening of new Scottish writing with the winners of the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awards. Join comedian and host for the night Sian Bevan, to listen to new voices of literature in Scotland, George Anderson, Kirstin Innes, and R.A Martens as well as one of the country’s brightest new poetry stars William Letford and the multitalented Kirsty Logan, for an evening of home grown talent in Charlotte Square Gardens.