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EIBF: Meg Bateman, Josep Lluis Aguilo, Peter Mackay and Carles Torner

August 14, 2013

  Listening to four poets, each reading one after the other, may sound like too much of an earful. All the more so if two of them speak Gaelic and two Catalan. But this performance was beautiful and well-organised linguistic chaos. The chair, Niall O’Gallagher, displayed an impressive trilinguilism...

EIBF: Peter Stothard and Michael Jacobs

August 14, 2013

Audience members in Peppers Theatre were few and far between for this discussion, chaired by Magnus Linklater. Peter Stothard and Michael Jacobs have both written memoirs which incorporate aspects of biography, travel writing and history.  Jacobs’ The Robber of Memories: A River Journey...

EIBF: Glyn Maxwell and Michael Symmons Roberts

August 12, 2013

A Sunday morning poetry sermon was held in the Spiegel tent. A nameless chairwoman in white from the Scottish Poetry Library introduced two preachers in black.  Glyn Maxwell took to the stage first and bellowed out the confrontational lyric ballad ‘Byelaw’. The first poem in his new collection...

EIBF: 10/08/2013 15.00: Salman Rushdie

August 12, 2013

‘As if by magic!’ announced Salman Rushdie when his new microphone was switched on. He had already entertained the crowd with mime after a technical fault silenced the start of his discussion with John Freeman. The rest of Rushdie’s appearance was filled with his own unique voice. Like his fiction,...

Iain Bamforth – The Crossing Fee and Rob A. Mackenzie – The Good News

August 8, 2013

Iain Bamforth – The Crossing Fee There is something terribly haunting in this new collection from Iain Bamforth. Taking the plunge from the old Germanic odyssey where a hero falling in the Black Forest emerges in the China Sea, this collection turns on the simple, elegant and yet sophisticated...

Renzo Modiano: Of Jewish Race

August 8, 2013

In his preface, Renzo Modiano asks what he can add to the testimonies of Anne Frank, Primo Levi and the Warsaw Ghetto.   Why write another book about the Holocaust?   The answer, of course, is “Because it matters”.    This is the testimony of a seven year old boy who survived...

Snake Road, by Sue Peebles

August 1, 2013

Snake Road is the second novel from Sue Peebles. Her first, The Death of Lomond Friel, won the Scottish and Saltire First Book awards. This slow paced study of Aggie who is devastated by a miscarriage, echoes some of the earlier book’s themes: grief and loss; old age and the infirmities that affect...

Peter Burnett: #Freetopiary: An Occupy Romance (Argyll Publishing)

July 27, 2013

Mills and Boon this is not.   In fact, I cannot think of any story that is less like Mills and Boon than this one.   So don’t let the title fool you.   It is not about love amongst the tents of the Occupy Movement.   It is a different sort of “Romance” altogether: much more...

Pippa Goldschmidt – The Falling Sky

May 13, 2013

The first thing that is astonishing about this book is that it made me think that I understand astronomy, which is clearly not the case.   That, in itself, is a tribute to the clarity and assurance of the writing.   But this is a story about much more than astronomy, or rather where astronomy...

‘The Revenge of History’ by Seumas Milne

April 11, 2013

Paraphrasing Diderot, the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens once warned that he would “go on keeping score” about the refusal of some countries to participate in the US-led invasion of Iraq “until the last phoney pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer”....