Book Festival Programme Launched

Game Of Thrones creator George RR Martin is among the writers appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this summer.

The August festival will offer a "crucial forum for dialogue'' in a momentous year for Scotland, organisers said as they launched the programme.

More than 900 participants from around the world will travel to Scotland's capital to take part in the event, which has the theme "Let's talk''.

As well as fiction, talks at the festival will cover topics as diverse as the union, the two world wars, the Commonwealth, economic migration, culture and the media.

International writers making their debut include Martin, plus Japanese author Haruki Murakami and Outlander creator Diana Gabaldon.

Martin Amis will make his debut in Charlotte Square Gardens to launch his new novel The Zone Of Interest, while others launching new books include Will Self, Sarah Waters, Esther Freud and Nicholas Parsons.

Among the familiar faces returning to the festival are Jung Chang, Margaret Drabble, Richard Dawkins, Max Hastings and Lydia Davis - who makes her first visit to the UK since winning the Man Booker International Prize.

Festival director Nick Barley said: "The Book Festival provides a crucial forum for dialogue, where we can listen to and learn from one another, particularly in this year of momentous events in Scotland.

"Our thought-provoking conversations with both authors and audiences will permeate through Charlotte Square Gardens as we welcome world-renowned writers and thinkers from many countries and cultures to Edinburgh, some for the first time in their careers.

"We offer a platform for emerging voices that are set to shape the world's literary stage in years to come and launch some of the most talked-about books of the year.

"Whatever the outcome of the (independence) vote on 18 September, we provide a space to view the coming changes from the wider context of the historical events that brought us to where we are today - from the Battle of Bannockburn to the end of WWI and the British Empire, the creation of the Commonwealth, the recent economic hardships and even last month's European elections.''

Poetry also features in the programme, with former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams previewing a new collection of his work.

Tom Pow and Simon Armitage also introduce new collections, and are joined in the programme by the former US poet laureate Billy Collins, UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and American war poet Brian Turner.

Broadcaster Kate Adie will deliver the annual Frederick Hood Memorial Lecture.

A series of evening debates, or "Dialogues'', will invite wide-ranging discussions on topics including the union and the implications of the referendum vote for the rest of the UK, energy and ageing, while events in the Scotland's Future strand invite leading writers and thinkers from a variety of political perspectives to sketch out their vision of Scotland after the vote.

Scottish writers appearing in the programme include Kirsty Wark, James Naughtie and former first minister Henry McLeish, while the international line-up features South Africans Damon Galgut and Zakes Mda, and Germany's Julia Franck.

The Baillie Gifford Children's Programme celebrates stories in many forms - music, song, poetry and illustration.

Writers appearing include children's laureate Malorie Blackman, Julia Donaldson, Patrick Ness, Kristina Stephenson, Darren Shan and Cathy Cassidy.

The festival runs from August 9 to August 25.

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