Scotland’s book town is doing its bit to keep people entertained and informed during lockdown.
From the personal to the national and international – the online Wigtown Wednesdays are a chance to explore change, renewal and vice.
The free online sessions, organised by Wigtown Festival Company (WFC), have been a popular way for audiences to engage with authors from many backgrounds as they explore a multitude of subjects.
Adrian Turpin, WFC director, said: ‘We created Wigtown Wednesdays in response to the first Covid lockdown – but they have really developed an identity of their own as a chance to hear some of today’s most interesting writers talk about their work, their ideas and their worlds.
‘The line-up over the next few weeks will take us on everything from personal journeys of health and healing to the possible break up of Britain.’
On 24 February at 7pm, the emphasis is very much on the realm of the personal as Katherine May talks about her book Wintering – which looks at how to survive life’s fallow periods, and the power of rest and retreat.
Katherine shares her own year of wintering, and looks at the themes of illness, loss, grief, shame, career changes and parenting guilt.
She also discusses her travels to Norway and Iceland in pursuit of winter and to interview locals who have themselves wintered in extreme ways.
Wintering shows how the healing nature of the great outdoors helps us overcome and embrace our own experiences, and how, much like nature, we can learn to appreciate these low periods, and what they have to teach us, before the ushering in of a new season.
On 17 March at 7pm the journalist and writer Gavin Esler will talk about How Britain Ends – his thoughtful, articulate book about the rise of English nationalism and the potential breakup of the United Kingdom.
It is a book about history, but also about the strange, complicated identity of Britishness. In the past one could be English, British, Scottish or Irish and a citizen of the UK (or Great Britain), part of what Gavin calls a ‘secret federation’ an arrangement lacking the explicit federal arrangements that allow Germany or the USA to survive.
He asks if there are still constitutional arrangements that might prevent the disintegration of the British state, or if that time has gone.
Then on Wednesday 31 March at 7pm there will be the chance to meet Samira Shackle, author of Karachi Vice.
This fast-paced debut novel reveals the complex and fascinating city of Karachi through the lives of its inhabitants.
Karachi, in Pakistan, is a sprawling mega-city of 20 million people – a place of political turbulence in which those who have power wield it with brutal and partisan force; it is a melting pot of cultures and religions; it is a city of lavish wealth and absolute poverty, and a place in which it pays to have friends in the right places and to avoid making deadly enemies.
Her characters include Safda, the ambulance driver, who knows the city’s streets and shortcuts intimately and will stop at nothing to help his fellow citizens and Parveen, the activist whose outspoken views on injustice and corruption repeatedly lead her towards danger. Then there is Zille, the hardened journalist whose commitment to getting the best scoops puts him at increasing risk.
As their individual experiences unfold, so Shackle tells the bigger story of Karachi over the past decade: a period of great unrest and upheaval in which the Taliban arrive in Pakistan, adding to the daily perils for its residents and pushing their city into the international spotlight.
For information see wigtownbookfestival.com.