The Edinburgh International Book Festival begins its formal program for 2014 today with “over 900 internationally-renowned writers and thinkers from 47 countries around the world” and a theme of “Let’s Talk” which directly recalls the so-called National Conversation consultation exercise which led up to the historic referendum on Scottish independence due next month. And while the referendum and the issue of Scottish independence is not at all the only item on the program, it is coloring much of the content of this year’s Festival and giving it an historic flavor of its own.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown are both highlight speakers on the program – although not debating directly with each other. Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, describes them as “politicians who are deeply committed to contrasting visions of Scotland’s future. Their dialogues will examine Scotland’s constitutional question and the nation’s future relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom, from an informed, historical perspective.”
But the Festival is not all about dour political debate by any means. Another headline item is an appearance by Game of Thrones master of mayhem George R. R. Martin, with a chance for anyone not directly attending to hear his presentation in a live streaming at 8pm UK time on Monday August 11th, courtesy of BBC Arts Online.
The full program is available for perusal or download at the Festival website. For anyone in Edinburgh at the time, or even those only able to follow remotely, it promises to be the most significant Edinburgh International Book Festival yet.