Edinburgh Book Fest Programme Revealed

9 June 2016, 15:53

Hollywood actor Alan Cumming and survival expert Ray Mears are among the big names taking part in the 2016 Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF).

American author Jonathan Safran Foer, former BBC director general Mark Thompson and cyclists David Millar, Chris Boardman and Mark Beaumont are also in the line-up.

Organisers of the August festival - believed to be the biggest of its kind in the world - say this year's theme can be summed up as "Project No Fear'' and will explore the power of the human mind to imagine a better world.

More than 800 writers, poets, illustrators, politicians, journalists, historians, scientists, philosophers and playwrights from 55 countries are to take part in the 17-day event at Charlotte Square Gardens.

Director Nick Barley described it as a festival "bursting at the seams with big ideas''.

The Good Wife actor Cumming, Mears and comedian Stewart Lee are set to offer sneak previews of their new books at the festival.

US writer Foer travels to Edinburgh to launch his first novel in more than a decade - Here I Am.

South Korean writer Han Kang, who won this year's Man Booker International Prize for fiction for her novel The Vegetarian, will be joined by translator Deborah Smith to discuss the role of translation in bringing international fiction to an English-speaking audience.

Sticking with fiction, doyenne of historical fiction Philippa Gregory will introduce her new Tudor novel, Eimear McBride will launch the follow-up to her award-winning A Girl is a Half Formed Thing and cookery writer and novelist Prue Leith will give a glimpse into the second book in her Food of Love series.

In the non-fiction category, musicians Wilko Johnson, Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and Brix Smith Start speak of their lives in and out of their respective bands.

Sports stars Millar, Boardman and Beaumont will talk about their careers in cycling and goalkeeping legend Packie Bonner recalls his 30-year career with Celtic and Ireland.

Politics and current affairs continue to play a key part in the programme.

Mr Thompson will put forward his argument on why the internet and 24-hour news has failed to lead to better democracy.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown is set to address globalisation while newly-appointed makar (Scotland's national poet) Jackie Kay is to be interviewed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Poetry further makes an impression on the programme with appearances from the likes of UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Billy Bragg and Luke Wright.

In other festival business, winners of the University of Edinburgh's James Tait Black Prizes will be announced as will the young Scottish poet receiving the biennial Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.

Mr Barley said: "You could say that the theme of this year's festival is 'Project No Fear'.

"It's about encouraging and celebrating the sort of courageous, positive, creative thinking that we desperately need in order to make the world a better place for everyone, rather than just for a privileged few.''

Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "This year's programme is sure to capture and excite audiences whilst raising Scotland's cultural profile on the international stage.''

The EIBF, which receives funding from Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, will run from August 13 to August 29.

Entrance to the gardens is free.

Tickets to all events go on sale at 8.30am on June 21.