Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Trip Down the Rabbit Hole: The Edinburgh International Book Festival Kicks Off

By Christina Freitas

On August 10th, Edinburgh will erupt in literary fever, ushering in a tradition now thirty years strong. Tourists will flock to this scenic destination for a chance to meet and discuss the future of books, literature, and the craft of writing with world-renowned authors and future rising stars. And it’s all part of the much larger Edinburgh Fringe Festival, an annual celebration of the arts in all its forms, complete with over 2,500 performances and events for its visitors to enjoy.

Thirty years, and still going strong!

Founded in 1983, the Edinburgh International Book Festival remains one of the world’s largest literary celebrations. Extending over the course of two weeks, from August 10th through the 26th, the Festival welcomes tourists, readers and writers from all corners of the globe to a rousing collection of book-related events. This year, the Festival will mark thirty years of extraordinary history not just in the realms of art and literature, but in politics and science as well, particularly for Scotland. Visitors are privy to stirring talks about what the past can teach us today, and how our future may in turn be shaped by it.

There will be reading workshops, where authors join fellow readers to critically discuss some of their favorite reads. Alan Durant (Blood, Publish or Die) will host one such talk on August 10th, to discuss the lasting legacy and message of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Events will touch not just the palms of several literary genres, but also other artistic realms such as music, in events uncovering the inspiration many famous authors, and their works, have gained from the world of music.

And of course, there will be guest speakers. Some of the most notable authors present at the 2013 Festival are Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale) and Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere, American Gods). If you’re feeling a little faint at the thought of hearing one of these authors speak, you may want to find a seat. Fast. On the final day of the festival, these legendary authors will share the same stage and engage in a joint conversation about their works, their inspirations and the world of writing.

It’s a relatively young tradition, but it’s one that the world sorely needs. We cannot afford to forget the significance that every book presents to our world, the way we view it, how we shape it. Books have eyes and ears, molded by those who revived the inky hearts at their cores. They see the world, they extract pieces of the puzzle and they create a mosaic of thoughts, ideas, and images, to help unravel life’s greatest puzzles, the ones that face us all. They touch us, often in ways we don’t realize.

And for that we should thank the writers who brought them to us and offer a standing ovation to the writers who will rise today and tomorrow, to carry on the marvelous tradition of storytelling, for our world and the one that will follow. Ten years from now, I hope the Festival will be celebrating its fortieth anniversary, celebrating even more authors, the ones who stunned us and impressed us, continuing the tradition of honoring their works, and welcoming with open arms the next generation of great writers for years to come.

Has anyone ever attended the Edinburgh Festival, or know anyone who has? You can share your thoughts or stories in the comment section below, or join us on Twitter @GodinePub. For more information about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, please visit their website. And for extended coverage of the Edinburgh International Books Festival, feel free to peruse its homepage.

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