Dispatch From The Edinburgh International Book Festival

Yesterday was the last day of The Edinburgh International Book Festival, a 27-year-old event that claims to be “the largest and most dynamic festival of its kind in the world.” Our own Rowena Yow was there (and the rest of us weren’t. Not that we’re bitter or anything.) Here are some of her observations and pictures, for your jealousy and enjoyment:

My plane circles Edinburgh airport; mint-green fields dot the misty landscape. I feel the call of scotch whiskey and the promise of books galore.

Lovely was an understatement. Graceful buildings lined the cobblestoned streets, little alleys (called “closes”) peeped out between, the sound of bagpipes swelled in the air, and above everything, Edinburgh castle presided.

Filled with reverence (and whiskey) I made my way down to the Book Festival.


Scattered around the tent walls of the festival were these amazing images of all the authors speaking at the event:



Sadly my time was so limited I could only sign myself up for two events: Debate: The End of the Book, and a talk given by Man Booker Prize winner Alan Hollinghurst. (“The Line of Beauty” is one of my favorite books.)


At the debate, author Ewan Morrison argued that in 25 years, the printed book will be nonexistent. Critic Ray Ryan replied that the materiality of a book is timeless, and that “books and bookshelves make the case for the identity of the spirit.” You can read more about the discussion here.


At the Alan Hollinghurst talk, the author discussed his recently released book “The Stranger’s Child,” the state of modern gay literature, and how much fun he has coming up with the names of his characters.


Over the next few days, I popped in and out of the book festival and bought “The Stranger’s Child” and Iain M. Banks’s “Surface Detail.” I also saw three plays, walked for miles, browsed used bookstores, people-watched in coffee shops, discovered really freaky chip flavors, had drinks at a haunted pub, visited the Edinburgh castle and, most importantly, made a sojourn to the Elephant House – the café where J.K. Rowling first started writing the Harry Potter series.


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