Unbound: Introducing the 2019 programme

Unbound with Edinburgh Gin is a free, informal and fun programme of night-time events at Edinburgh Book Festival; Roland Gulliver introduces the programme

Feature by Roland Gulliver | 01 Jul 2019
  • Roland Gulliver

For 16 nights, Unbound with Edinburgh Gin takes place in the Book Festival’s Spiegeltent in Charlotte Square Gardens. It’s free, it’s informal and it’s fun. It begins around 9pm, finishes around 11.30pm, and each night is different – there’s no need for a ticket, just drop in. You’ll discover authors, performers, musicians and artists; from the much-loved to your new literary obsession.

Unbound celebrates its 10th edition this year. Over the last decade it’s changed, grown and flourished, responding to the Book Festival in the Gardens and listening to the beat of the cultural world outside. There’s been spectacle and the odd heckle. There’s been dancing and joy as we’ve crowded the aisles watching antics unfold; emotion and intimacy as we’ve sat captivated, enthralled by the readings or music on stage. In our fabulous Spiegeltent we’ve experimented, challenged preconceptions and celebrated the power of stories, books, readings and performance. All that’s wonderful about Edinburgh nights at the Book Festival in August.

The 2019 programme is no different. We’ve taken what people love about Unbound and made it bigger and better, adding a few things new; capturing the best that Scotland has to offer while welcoming a plethora of international stars to light up the nights.

Unbound has always revelled in the richness of the Scottish independent music scene – we just love the chemistry that’s created bringing musicians and authors together on stage. Music is at the heart of Unbound and we’ve invited some of Scotland’s best record labels to create nights with us: Armellodie Records will bring us Dan Lyth and the Euphrates, The Scottish Enlightenment, and Thirty Pounds of Bone who’ll perform alongside three of the world’s best short story writers: Nicole Flattery, Wendy Erskine and Kevin Barry. Night School Records will warm our nights with a journey to where love and romance collide, with music and readings from J. McFarlane's Reality Guest, Michael Amherst, and Sean Nicholas Savage.

We’ve invited back familiar friends, but with an unfamiliar twist. Neu! Reekie! will explore the astonishing archipelago of Indonesia, spilling out of the Spiegeltent in their usual rambunctious style, offering a rare opportunity to experience some incredible international artists. Inspired by Will Ashon’s astonishing book on the hip-hop legends Wu Tang Clan, Vic Galloway will give us a night with Joseph Malik, Callum Easter, Saskia Vogel, Dean Atta, and maybe a wee exclusive from Vic’s new band.

Hip-hop and spoken word have broken down the old stereotypes of book festivals being foostie affairs. The brilliance of Babble On (a strand of the best spoken word artists that runs throughout the Festival programme) ignites the middle weekend. Courtesy of Luke Wright and Becky Fincham, one of Britain’s best poets Inua Ellams stages his R.A.P Party, a night of hip-hop, dancing and poetry, in partnership with our friends at Edinburgh International Festival; the irrepressible Bang Said the Gun, celebrating 20 years, noises up one of our Saturday nights; and Ted Hughes Award-winner Hollie McNish will, with some talented friends, give an intimate and memorable performance of words and music.

If that wasn’t enough, the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers will return home after another incredible year, the mud of Glastonbury fresh on their boots and their literary day jobs an even hazier memory. No Unbound can be complete without them!

Our musical storytelling adventures explore the land we live in too. An Unbound first will bring the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to the Spiegeltent. As part of Faber & Faber's 90th birthday celebrations, artist Richard King celebrates landscape and music from post-war art to the 80s rave scene culture. Aidan O’Rourke and James Robertson’s 365 is a very special project which has brought together many voices and musicians over the last year to record all 365 stories and pieces of music. They invite a few of those who joined them on the journey for a night of celebration, stories and song.

In true Book Festival style Unbound looks beyond our borders to welcome international friends. We celebrate the launch of Outriders Africa with readings and performances from the artists involved including Tsitsi Dangarembga, Donna Ogunnaike and more. Scotland goes Basque offers the unique poetry spectacle that is Bertsolaritza – audience participation guaranteed! Efe Paul Azino, director of the Lagos International Poetry Festival, hosts Finding Home, a series of poems and conversations on migration and nationality with a multinational line-up from Iran, Canada and Nigeria.

And there’s so much more… including a very special final night beneath the festival fireworks. Click here for the full Unbound with Edinburgh Gin line-up.

So come join us! Escape the cluttered city, wearied world of work, the frantic festival day. Don’t be shy, come and relax, enjoy a drink and find friends. You’ll discover something new, maybe not what you expect, but if you yearn for a great night out inspired by books and stories, this is where you’ll find it.

This year, thanks to the support of our good festival friends Edinburgh Gin, the Book Festival is the place to be. At the Edinburgh Gin Bar, you can experience ‘Over a gin with…’  pop-up readings and performances every weekend outside in the Gardens – and our own Festival bookshop will be open until 11pm every night for browsing and buying.