The country's biggest book festival starts next week. Based in Charlotte Square Gardens, which is transformed into a tented village, the Edinburgh International Book Festival welcomes around 250,000 visitors each year. Here Jade Aimers picks out the 15 must-see authors and events.


A Quixotic Search For Love

Salman Rushdie is a world-renowned essayist, novelist and winner of the Booker Prize. He rose to fame after his 1981 novel, Midnight’s Children, and he received both praise and heavy backlash for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. Rushdie’s latest novel, Quichotte, is being launched worldwide in September. The novel centres around Quichotte, an ageing salesman and his quest to prove himself worthy of love. Rushdie’s event is on Monday, August 26 at 6.45pm.


Working Class Lives

Prize-winning Scottish novelist Kerry Hudson teams up with American author Sarah Smarsh in a discussion of wealth inequality and what it means to grow up poor today. In Lowborn, Kerry Hudson recounts her tempestuous upbringing: shuttled around the UK, at the mercy of her mother’s volatility, and without any sense of stability. Sarah Smarsh’s memoir Heartland recalls the destitution she experienced growing up in a Kansas wheat farming family. Their discussion is on Sunday, August 25 at 1.30pm.


Boys Will Be Boys

Markus Zusak skyrocketed to international acclaim with his young adult multi-million-pound bestseller, The Book Thief. Thirteen years later, Zusak makes his first appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival with its sequel: Bridge of Clay. Within the book Zusak introduces to the reader the Dunbar brothers: five children coping with and adjusting to the disappearance of their father. Zusak’s event is on Monday, August 12 at 5pm.


Age 8-12

The Horrible Histories franchise contains the hugely successful illustrated book series. The series contains more than 60 titles and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. This event, led by series illustrator Martin Brown, celebrates the 25th anniversary of Rotten Romans by bringing facts and historical fun to life. A great way to spark an interest in history for children, this exciting event is taking place on Saturday, August 24 at 5pm.



Part of the Unbound series of events, The R.A.P Party is a live literature event. It promises to mix poetry inspired by hip hop culture and infuse them with “fresh beats from the scene.” Created by poet and performer Inua Ellams, attendees of this free event can expect poetry from the Young People’s Laureate for London, Theresa Lola, as well as performances by Harry Baker, Joe Dunthorne and Tania Nwachukwu. Drop in on Friday, August 16 at 9pm.


Surviving and Thriving in 2019

Novelist Matt Haig is an author of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction. His recent work on personal development – embodied in the 2015 Reasons to Stay Alive and the 2018 hit Notes on a Nervous Planet – have become guides on coping with mental health and anxiety in a world fraught with insecurity. Focussing on how contemporary technology and society are making individuals discontent, his event is a must see for some peace of mind this summer. Join Matt Haig and Lennie Goodings in this inspiring event on Thursday, August 22 at 5pm.


Tackling Tough Lives Inside

Dr Brown’s book, The Prison Doctor, focusses on her experiences while working as a doctor at HMP Huntercombe, Wormwood Scrubs Prison, and lastly, HMP Brozefield. Thrust out of a job as a village GP, Brown charts her heart wrenching and challenging experience adjusting to life as a prison doctor and the struggles she faced forming bonds with prisoners. Candid, shocking, horrifying: she comes to Edinburgh Festival to share her first-hand experiences and to share the struggles her incarcerated patients had lived through. This event is chaired by Sheena McDonald and is on Friday, August 23 at 12.30pm.


An Abandoned Mythical Land

In To The Island Of Tides, Scottish author Alastair Moffat recounts the history of the holy island of Lindisfarne. The former director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society takes the reader on a pilgrimage across Scotland and northern England, following the trail of saints and scholars, whilst simultaneously recounting Viking Raids and the problems the now peaceful island previously faced. This event is running on Sunday, August 25 at 3.15pm.


Writers vs The Apocolapse

Join authors Max Brooks and Dave Cook for a free evening in The Spiegeltent as part of the Unbound series with Edinburgh Gin. Brooks, bestselling author of World War Z, and now the author of the first official Minecraft Novel, is fighting for survival with Dave Cook, author of Killtopia. Sadistic audience members – that’s you – will design a dystopian apocalyptic scenario that the authors must survive while simultaneously discussing their books and careers. This interactive evening is a must see and is launching on August, Sunday 18 at 9pm.


So Good, It’s Criminal

Ian Rankin returns to the festival with his latest John Rebus bestseller: In a House of Lies, which has recently been released in paperback format. John Rebus is on the hunt for the murder of a private detective that was killed a decade before his body was eventually found. Rebus must dig up the old case and probe into the previous investigation while tensions rise. In this event Ian Rankin discusses his novel and what is to come next for both himself and for Rebus. This event is running on Thursday, August 15 at 8:30pm. Returns only.


Flight Recorders

Sulaiman Addonia fled Eritrea as a child and lived in a refugee camp in Sudan after the Om Hajar massacre. His powerful novel, Silence is My Mother Tongue, was published in 2018 and tells the story of two siblings who find themselves in a Sudanese refugee camp with their mother. Olga Grjasnowa moved to Germany in 1996 as a refugee and her novel, City of Jasmine, displays a gut wrenching, intimate picture of the horrors of war. The two authors will discuss the realities of a life lived in exile, on Thursday, August 22 at 3.30pm.


Work Like A Woman

Mary Portas is best known for her work on revitalising the high street. Her manifesto for change, Work Like A Woman, was released in 2018 and aims to create a cultural shift regarding work. Portas is aiming to force a re-evaluation of the way women work and to reshape the business culture for the benefit of both sexes. This event is taking place on Wednesday, August 14 at 8.30pm and is part of the book festivals Telling Her Story series.


Climb Aboard

Family fun. Set sail on the School Ship Tobermory with Alexander McCall Smith and illustrator Iain McIntosh as they present the fourth title in their series, The Secret of the Dark Waterfall. This time the gang are on the hunt for a shipwreck laden with treasure. You’ll need courage and ingenuity to help them find it. Saturday, August 10 12.15pm.


Identity and language exchange

What happens when words and ideas travel between languages? Never having met, Iban Zaldua and James Robertson spent six months exchanging letters in their native languages: Scots and Basque. They offer an intimate reflection on Europe, identity and literature, published in a new book. Join the writers as they share the experience of getting to know each other through writing and responding to each other’s carefully crafted and thought-provoking missives. Part of Scotland Goes Basque 2019 on Saturday, August 10 at 12.30pm.


Do brutal men father brutal men?

After the success of Maggie & Me, a memoir of growing up gay in 1980s Scotland, Damian Barr presents his debut novel You Will Be Safe Here. Its interweaving narratives build around the tender depiction of Willem – sensitive, effeminate, at odds with his Afrikaner world. The novel is based on the true story of a teenager who was killed in a South African camp that promised to turn boys into ‘real men’. He talks about it to Richard Holloway. Sunday, August 11 at 10.30am.

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