Sunday 30 June 2024

Edinburgh Book Festival 2024


EIBF 2024

Since 2006 I have attended the EIBF. I would enjoy the fun, exuberance and festivities of the high street and after the walk down the mound and along George street to the relative calm and seclusion of the tree shaded book festival. A restorative juxtaposition.


Here I found a place of quiet reflection, big debate, colourful diversity, spontaneous conversations, intellectual challenge, famous faces, questioning politics. A place to anaylse or be informed. Intellectual freedoms and debates. There is also art, science, sport, history, economic and music and much more besides. It’s a place to refresh and for new ideas and interactions. .


EIBF was begun in 1983

EIBF is both national and international – with many well known Scottish authors – Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Alexander McCall Smith, Liz Lochhead, Christopher Brookmyre. Richard Holloway -  and also big names international names such as Elif Shakaf, Joseph Stiglitz, Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky and many more.


Neil Gaiman

Rachel Long

Simon Callow

This year the world leading book festival anticipates its brand new venue at the historic building next to the meadows  - with an expanded new outdoor Courtyard, the return of the Speigel tent and the Children’s tent in the courtyard, with lots of events and free activities to spark ideas and creativity.

Plus major events at the McEwan hall and food events at Elliott’s studio, Sciennes rd. 


My Top memories - One evening the Speigel tent was packed to hear an impromptu set by the Nile Rodgers! I felt so lucky to be there. He told stories of starting in Sesame street – and in-between played his songs with those very well kent riffs!

Another time was being mistaken for the famous Irish poet Seamus Heaney;s wife, on entering the book festival café, when Heaney we just ahead of me! 


I attend EIBF each year and its an unmatched place for informed debate, intellectual collaboration and creative thinking. Why are green activists targeting a place of free and open ideas for our future? When there are so many fake, ignorant click baits on so much of online media?

Ocean Vuong

This years theme is 'Future Tense' with a new venue at the Futures Institute – where Edinburgh’s famous Royal Infirmary once stood. And a new Scots festival director, Jenny Niven


Niven describes the Edinburgh festival as, “One of high octane and venerable, raucous and transformative, thoughtful and spontaneous….Is what brings the city to life, creating a playground for anyone who curiosity get the better of them. For ideas to take centre stage.”

“In a moment of such divisions and opposition – democracy thrives on good information, sanguine exchange  - the art of really listening and your voice deserves to be heard.”



**There will be several book festival themes - 


Future Tense - A toast to the future/ brilliant fiction/ future library/ generations/ data/ future politics/ imaginative realm.

How to live a meaningful life


Justified sinner


Saturday 29 June 2024

SCOTS authors at Edinburgh book festival


Alan Bissett

It has been my privilege to shoot photos at the Edinburgh International Book Festival each year since 2009. There are authors from all over the world, and of course many Scots authors. Here are a few images.   


Liz Lochhead

Alexander MacColl Smith

Gordon Brown

Alan Cumming

A Just Transition who decides


Its crucial we have sustainable and realistic moves to Net Zero. For a fair just transition should a small group of activists decide?


Fossil free Books (FFB), campaigned in 2023 to have UKs book festivals ban major sponsorship by Baillie Gifford investment bank, who also fund Edinburgh’s children’s program. This was brought to a head by Greta Thunberg’s cancellation of her major event at Edinburgh’s Playhouse last year. This also effected the Hay and Cheltenham’s book festivals in England.


It turns out only 2% the Baillie Gifford investment is for fossil fuels – and that most financial investment banks have 11% fossil fuel investments. Bookshop Waterstone’s are backed by Elliot advisors investment bank, who have oil and gas funds - as have Amazon books. in fact book production itself requires fossil fuels. 


The Green economy requires both private and public funding. The Greens, in the Scottish government partnership have encouraged ‘active travel’ – which is fine – but at the huge expense of drastic cuts to road infrastructure. Quite simply not everyone can ride a bike to work. Spending on main A trunk roads  - in 2016, 500m/ 2021, 54m/ and 2024, 12m. 


Book festivals are a major platform for informed and constructive debate on many major issues facing us, such as the climate emergency. The Arts funding, particularly after Covid, are under serious financial strain. Did book festivals appear an easy target? I attend EIBF each year and its an unmatched place for informed debate, intellectual collaboration and creative thinking. Why are green activists targeting a place of free add open ideas for our future? When there are so many fake, ignorant click baits on so much of online media?


We must question why a small group of extreme activists must hold the rest of us to account? I’m as keen as anyone on a just transition but it must start at the cliff face. That is by consumers asking for plastic free food. Twenty years ago our fruit and veg would not come wrapped in plastic, but rather cardboard or brown bags. A main culprit to the climate crisis, is plastic clothes and there must be another way of producing plastic free practical sweat tops etc. I buy cotton when its available. I prefer organic and vegetarian food.


This rush to Net Zero is not all about electric cars. Its about improved infrastructure – park and ride, joined up transport, better insulation etc. Scandinavia has been planning for net zero since the 70s. Britain is far behind this curve. About biodiversity, natural woodlands, and protecting our seas.. Meanwhile Baillie Gifford invests in several green innovations such as – Northvolt (Swedish battery company), Climeworks (carbon capture Iceland), Solagen (Texas, first carbon-negative molecule)


Who decides on planning for this huge pylon destruction of Scotland’s beautiful countryside? – the local council, the Scottish government or the UK government. Energy policy is reserved to Westminster. 

New oilrigs are much more efficient while the older rigs are more carbon inefficient – so the carbon intensity must be analysed on a case by case basis – as the SNP are advising. Scotland will require the engineering skills of UK companies to aid with green innovations for our just transition. 


I agree we must encourage a green economy and jobs for the future – as Biden has done in America with a green deal. The reality is complicated with the need for investment. Its such as farce – when ignorance leads to misguided judgements and imposing fake opinions on how both scientific innovation and investment actually works. The green economy requires both private and public funding and for oil companies to drive innovation to a greener future. 


The green activists would turn off the oil and gas taps tomorrow. This is not practical. The UKs older homes are poorly insulated. What about petrochemicals that are used in medicine, dyes, paint, clothes, supplies for industry and more. Until an alternative can be found we will need oil and gas for decades to come.

Scots Voices across the World


The Lubeck letter William Wallace, 1297, addressed the Hanseatic ports of Hamburg and Lubeck - that Scotland was open for business again, having defeated the English army at Battle of Stirling Bridge. 


Many Scots in the 16th and 17th centuries travelled to the Baltic lands, north Germany, Prussia, Poland, Russia – The Scottish brotherhoods were set up in the Provinces and Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth. 


Scotland is a northern island with close links and ties to northern Europe. The Orkney and Shetland islands are much closer to Norway than to London – both physically and culturally.

At Stromness museum, there are many relics from all the centuries of seafaring far and wide across the world. And the ancient Bogdnar of Ness, which brought people to Orkney many centuries ago. 


Scots merchants funded Marischal Aberdeen college. As did Danzig merchant Robert Gordon. Craigevar castle, built with wealth by William Forbes. Scots pedlars, to ports in Danzig and Konigsberg (30K Scots families), they sold directly to people in the countryside.


Later Scots soldiers of fortune, travelled from north east Scotland and these soldiers were encouraged by James IV.


After the world famous Ossian poems 1700s – German aristocrats flocked to Loch Katrine And also after Walter Scott’s novels our Scottish Tourist industry started. Also the composition of Mendelsohn’s Fingals cave. 



BOOK:  The Scottish World by Billy Kay