Some of the world’s most influential authors are heading to Glasgow.
The 15th Aye Write book festival opens at the Mitchell Library tomorrow (Thursday, March 12) and for more than a fortnight, the city centre will be abuzz with book-related readings, talks and discussions.
Top Scottish novelists such as Val McDermid and Christopher Brookmyre, plus international bestsellers like Joanna Trollope and Lars Mytting, feature among the 270-plus writers participating in this year’s festival.
As well as literary stars, Aye Write 2020 features household names from across the cultural spectrum, including Bake Off’s Prue Leith, Strictly’s Anton Du Beke and comedian Paul Tonkinson. Two former EastEnders actors are also on the bill: Michael Cashman (author of One Of Them: From Albert Square To Parliament Square) and John Partridge (There’s No Taste Like Home).
Festival highlights include Remembering Alasdair: a special tribute to the late writer and artist Alasdair Gray, who had originally been scheduled to appear at this year’s festival to discuss his most recent book, Purgatory with his biographer, Rodge Glass. Gray died on December 29 last year and on Friday (March 13), some of Gray’s eminent friends – including Bernard MacLaverty and Janice Galloway – will join Glass in the Mitchell Library to pay tribute to the man who made a huge contribution to Scottish and international culture, and read from his work.
Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘The Remembering Alasdair event promises a very inspiring evening – albeit a sad one for Aye Write, as Alasdair was a much-loved contributor to the festival.
‘Through his writing, murals and other artworks as well his visionary thinking, he brought so much to Glasgow, Scotland and the world, so it’s fitting that we pay tribute to the man and his work at Aye Write: a festival that celebrates books and culture, while also providing an important forum for thinking and debate.’
There will be plenty of original thinking going on during Imagine A Country: an event hosted by crime-writer Val McDermid and university professor Jo Sharp, co-editors of a book in which prominent figures present their dream of a future Scotland. Land reforestation, educational reform, a care revolution and the end of capitalism could all be touched on as guests Stuart Cosgrove, Louise Welsh and others envision the nation they’d most like to live in.
Founded in 2005, Aye Write showcases the vibrancy of Glasgow’s writing and publishing culture, delivers an ambitious programme of Scottish and international events and highlights the importance of reading for all. The festival is an important contributor to Glasgow’s economy. Including Wee Write children’s festival, it generates a net additional output for the city of almost £475,000.
It’s also hugely popular, as feedback from the 2019 festival confirmed, with 99% of audience members polled rating the experience ‘very good’ or ‘good’ and 95% saying they were inspired to attend further cultural events as a result of attending Aye Write.
Running from March 12-29, Aye Write 2020 spans more than a fortnight and covers three full weekends and several weekdays. Although primarily based at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library, it includes a range of events – such as creative writing sessions and talks – at venues throughout the city.
Aye Write programmer Bob McDevitt said: ‘I’m really excited about this year’s festival.
‘After 15 years it’s still serving up surprises and this year’s programme includes some very special firsts, including our first ever reigning Booker prizewinner, Bernardine Evaristo, who’ll discuss her sensational novel, Girl, Woman, Other.
‘Aye Write is a fantastic celebration of books and literature which also offers first-class entertainment and there’s something for everyone to enjoy – whether they’re into poetry, history or are more interested in cookery, music, art, politics or the great outdoors.
‘Most importantly, perhaps, Aye Write gives audiences the chance to meet the people behind the books and to ask questions, express opinions and engage in lively debate about some of the most important issues of the day.’
Aye Write 2020 runs from Thursday, 12 March to Sunday, 29 March 29. For full programme and ticketing information visit www.ayewrite. Aye Write also offers several creative writing sessions and free events.