Edinburgh International Book Festival online

We’re supporting a specially selected programme of events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival online

The 2020 Edinburgh International Book Festival will be presented online from Saturday 15 to Monday 31 August. The programme, made up of over 140 events for adults, families and children, will offer both live and pre-recorded conversations featuring leading writers, poets and participants from around the world. 

We’re delighted to be supporting a series of events, connecting readers across the globe with inspirational authors:

  • Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin reflecting on his work in times of a pandemic.
  • Roger Robinson discussing his prize-winning poetry collection A Portable Paradise with Kei Miller.
  • Award-winning Ugandan author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi on her latest novel, The First Woman.
  • Scottish novelist Douglas Stuart whose debut The Making of Shuggie Bain made the longlist for this year’s Booker Prize.
  • Randa Jarrar, Raphael Khouri and Amrou al-Kadhi on queer Arab writing today.
  • Donna Obaseki-Ogunnaike and Wanjiru Koinange on companionship, dating, and romance in West Africa.
  • A special evening of poetry and music with Scots Makar Jackie Kay and US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.


How to watch

Events will be free to view, and available through the Book Festival’s website. Audiences can register in advance to receive updates (see links to individual events below).

Please see the programme for details of events that are captioned and BSL interpreted.

All times below are UK time (BST / UTC+1)


Ian Rankin: A Rebus for the Dark Times

Mon 17 Aug 19:00 - 20:00
BSL interpreted and captioned 

We have all become familiar with living through these strange times but for Ian Rankin, 2020 has been unusual in more ways than one.

Rankin joins leading Scottish journalist Ruth Wishart for a conversation about his novel, A Song for the Dark Times, and the new edition of Westwind released this year.

This is a live event, with an author Q&A.

Register to watch 

Roger Robinson: ‘Ordinary Poems Won’t Change the World’ 
17 August 20:30 - 21.30

Firmly rooted in the dub poetry tradition of his Trinidadian heritage, Robinson’s plain-speaking, fizzy, often joyous verse journeys through our contemporary preoccupations with a seasoned insight few could replicate. 

In this event, he unpacks the cosmos of ideas that make up his collection A Portable Paradise with fellow poet Kei Miller, and shares a special animated film exclusively for the occasion.

This is a pre-recorded event.

Register to watch


Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi: Uganda’s First Woman of Fiction
Wed 19 Aug 14:30 - 15:30

Ugandan short story writer and novelist Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi burst onto the scene in 2013 with her first novel Kintu.

Her work is celebrated for its links to oral traditions as well as its incisive critiques of contemporary Ugandan politics. For this event, she discusses her latest novel, The First Woman, with editor and culture columnist of The Economist Fiammetta Rocco.

This is a pre-recorded event.

Register to watch 

Suzanne Bonnar, Joy Harjo & Jackie Kay: Makar to Makar - Sonnets from Scotland
20 August 19:00

Get ready for warmth and wit as well as political and emotional gut-punches, in an evening of winding tales and terrific poetry.

This is a pre-recorded event.

Register to watch

Wanjiru Koinange & Donna Obaseki-Ogunnaike: Outriders Africa – Sub-Saharan Swiping
Fri 21 Aug 11:30 - 12:30

Donna Obaseki-Ogunnaike and Wanjiru Koinange seek to decode where the future of love lies for women in modern Africa.

They quizzed a vast array of women across the West African region about hook-up culture, how their cities inspire companionship, and whether romance really is dead. Joined by writers Renee Akitelek Mboya and Efua Oyofo, Obaseki-Ogunnaike and Koinange today share their reflections on these surprising, funny and moving conversations.

This is a pre-recorded audio-only event. Part of the Africa: A Balance of Stories series of events.

Register to watch 

Writing Wrongs: Voices from the Queer Arab Vanguard

Fri 21 Aug 13:00 - 14:00

Gender non-conforming and sexually diverse people are oppressed, persecuted and erased all over the world. The cultural concepts used to justify this — religious or secular, traditional or imported — are various, as are the histories that got us here. But wherever we live in the world and whatever version of patriarchy we live under, the damage done is universal.  

So in this traumatic global context, how does an LGBTIQA+ Arab end up making public art? What are the specific challenges and priorities for these queer artists with Arab heritage, and how do creativity and activism interweave in their work?

Novelist, memoirist and journalist Randa Jarrar, documentary playwright and theatremaker Raphael Khouri, and drag performer, writer and filmmaker Amrou al-Kadhi all join translator and editor Alice Guthrie to discuss and read from their luminous and potent work. Our panel of vibrant queer Arab writers show how queer lives, queer selves and queer expression continue to blossom, against the odds.

This event is pre-recorded and was conceived and programmed by Alice Guthrie.

Register to watch

Douglas Stuart: The Making of Shuggie Bain
Wed 26 Aug 17:30 - 18:30 (BST / UTC+1)

Inviting comparisons to the works of Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, this astonishing debut is a powerful and heart-breaking story about the love between a boy and his mother.

Hugh ‘Shuggie’ Bain and his mother Agnes are two of the great characters of literature and in this event their creator, Douglas Stuart, answers your questions after a conversation with author Damian Barr.

This is a live event, with an author Q&A.

Longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize

Register to watch 



For information on the full Edinburgh International Book Festival Digital programme see www.edbookfest.co.uk

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