Edinburgh book festival examines novel’s future

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Edinburgh book festival examines novel’s future

EDINBURGH - The Edinburgh International Book Festival spreads its wings around the world this year with a debate among 50 noted international authors on how writing and the imagination are essential components of society.

Details of this year’s book festival, which runs from Aug. 11 to 27 in tandem with the city’s massive Fringe and the International Festival, were released on Thursday, with 800 writers from 44 countries taking part in 750 events.

The Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference, staged in partnership with the British Council, will run every afternoon between Aug. 17 and 21 with 50 leading international writers covering a range of topics from national literature to censorship and politics, style versus content and the future of the novel.

Inspired by a seminal writers’ gathering in Edinburgh in 1962, the conference, with a budget of some 500,000 pounds ($783,000), will go on to 13 other countries over the next year, including Egypt, Australia, Russia, India and Canada.

Egyptian novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif will set the conference off in Edinburgh with the question: Should literature be political? “This is a year for taking stock about what matters to us in a time of uncertainty, doubt and data overload,” said Book Festival director Nick Barley.

The younger generation is an essential part of the festival, with 250 children’s authors covering everything from zombies, vampires and monsters to young samurai, a resurgent interest in historical novels, illustration workshops and stand-up comedy. When asked about the proliferation of book festivals over the past decade, Barley told Reuters that this was a good thing.

“Book festivals become places where people can discuss things, some of the big questions that we face in our age,” he said.

He added that the Edinburgh International Book Festival was fortunate in that it has become the biggest in the world and expected it to remain so. But he said constant growth is not necessarily on the agenda.

“It’s more about constant improvement and constantly reaching for ideas that matter to our audiences, so I think we have a very bright future.”

Details about the Book Festival are available at www.edbookfest.co.uk.

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