Festival Books

‘A lot of it can be imitative but where it '3 fresh and people make it part of their own culture, Manga is having a very positive effect to the point where some of the more interesting Manga isn't actually coming out of Japan.’ Perhaps this is the perfect way to reinvigorate Shakespeare for a new generation. (Henry Northmore)

I 74 Aug (with Robert Deas and Emma Hayley), 8.30pm, £9 (£7).

THOMAS GLAVINIC Telling a tale about the very nature of being


From Mary Shelley’s The Last Man to /Am Legend. the idea of being the last person alive would seem to have an abiding fascination. Thomas Glavinic's take on it, Night Work, tracks Jonas, who awakens one morning to discover he has. for reasons that are never made apparent, become the sole inhabitant of Vienna and, it appears. the world. At first incredulous, then lonely, fearful and desperate, he records his own voice and films himself performing increasingly bizarre actions in his sleep for company that serves only to heighten his paranoia. It is a stark, surreal, and unrelenting tale without a happy conclusion or reprieve from Jonas' torment.

‘I think this is such a vital, big idea.‘ says Glavinic, ‘an idea that will give many more writers the chance to show what being a human being means to them. Night Work is a book about fear, loneliness and love, and a book about being.‘

But what is being? ‘First of all you need other people to find it out. When I wrote that book I was Jonas; I went through an empty world, being the last man myself, and it changed me, it was the biggest challenge in my writer's life. And I probably should mention I am not as tough as Jones; in this situation I would have been going nuts after some hours!‘ A life without outside obligation and disturbance has its appeal, but as Jonas discovers. the threat to one's being isn't always external.

(Kate Gould) I 14 Aug (with GW Dahlquist), 4.30pm, £6 (£4).

ZIAUDDIN SARDAR Seeking to redefine British multiculturalism

‘The immense diversity of British Asians even surprised me,’ admits

author and journalist Ziauddin Sardar, who has spent the last three years investigating the many identities of Asians in this country. Named after the fabricated ‘Indian' dish which originated in Birmingham, his book Ba/ti Britain explores the communities created by generations of migrants and British-born Asians in all corners of the UK. Sardar questions our abridged version of Indian history and the words we use: just what constitutes a ‘curry'? And who exactly are “Asians”? Entire cultures and peoples. Sardar argues, are hidden behind these bland words invented by a Western, colonial perspective. ‘In reality, the Indian subcontinent has always been truly multicultural, multi—religious, multi- ethnic, multilingual and a multi- civilisation place,“ explains Sardar. We are awestruck by this mindboggling diversity and don't really know how to handle it.’

After an inauspicious start to the let century, there seems no better time to re-evaluate and redefine our multicultural society. Sardar agrees that ‘British Asians, like most people throughout the world, are going through an identity crisis. I think this is the hallmark of our time.‘ Looking back through India and Britain's intertwined history; from the first Indian to settle in England in 1644, to the many servants, sailors, doctors and soldiers who have come to these shores since, Sardar breaks apart the stereotypes. ‘ldentities are not fixed and immutable. They change. Ba/ti Britain is my attempt to reinvent and reshape what it means to be Asian in Britain today.’ (Emma Lennox)

I 74 Aug, noon, £9 (£7).

CELINE CURIOL French author celebrates the outsider

Young Parisian author Céline Curiol laughs when I tell her of the proliferation of post-Carla Bruni articles seeking to define the particular character of the French woman, and then makes her apologies for a lack of further insight. ‘l'm going to have to be very boring,‘ she says. ‘As someone who has lived the last 12 years outside France, I don't know if I completely qualify as the best example of a French woman now.’

Yet, Curiol is back in Paris again, after periods Spent living in London and New York. Her home city saw the first publication of her two novels to

date, Voice Over and Permission (the former released in Britain this year, three years behind France; the latter still in translation), and the characters she writes about are defined in a subtle way - by their nation. Voice Over is the story of a particularly solitary woman who works as a station announcer at the Care du Nord, and who follows a man she falls for to London.

‘The lead character is a young French woman, and l was interested in trying to show French society through her eyes, to see what Paris and France are today. I often find that French novels are now written by one kind of person, and they only see the same kind of people around them. So all the questions about immigration, for example, are often set apart from mainstream literature. I think I have a better perspective on this than many, because I am French, but I also know how it feels to be an outsider.‘

(David Pollock) I 9 Aug (with Hedi Kaddour and Florian Zel/er), 6pm, £6 (£4).

KIDS EVENTS Trains and tweens dominate the first week

The good, the naughty and the hungry are all in evidence in the opening salvo of the kids programme, with the whole shebang kicked off in boisterous style by queen of tween Cathy Cassidy (9 Aug) who presents more quirky characters in Ginger Snaps. Later on day one. artist Julie Dawson will bring The Very Hungry Caterpillar (9 Aug) to life with no piece of fruit, veg and savoury/sweet pie feeling safe from its ravenous jaws.

Of slightly more delicate nature is Jemima Puddleduck (12 Aug), while Dawson is back again to give us Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Thian Are (10 Aug). Arriving to save the day is Thomas the Tank Engine (9 Aug) in which the Fat Controller will be in attendance and fans get something special to take home. No Ringo in town, though, unfortunately.

(Brian Donaldson) I See edbookfest. co. uk for full

Online Booking

Fringe www.edlringe.com

International Festival www.eif.co.uk Book Festival wwwedbookfest.co.uk Art Festival www.edinbiirghartfestivalcrg


With Alex James coming to chat about his past life as a Britpop superstar, we reflect on the bits of Blur that we remember

‘There’s No Other Way’ As much of a Madchester rip-off as it was (those guitar lines ride in the slipstream of The Stone Roses' John Squire), Blur’s first 1991 hit was a sublime pop song. Also, more practically. it marked their first collaboration with indispensable producer Stephen Street.

Rediscovering olde England After Leisure, it looked very much like Blur’s destiny was the one-hit wonder bin. Until, that is, the ‘Pop Scene' single and Modern Life is Rubbish album had Damon Albarn rekindling his muse by commenting on a semi-mythical view of England, past and present. The Battle of Britpop An awful, rubbish thing in hindsight, the media furore which accompanied Blur releasing ‘Country House' and Oasis bringing out ‘Roll With lt' in the same week in August 1995 felt kind of important at the time. Blur won but were so chastened by the experience they went off to listen to Pavement and record Blur, their creative zenith.

Graham Coxon leaving! Gorilla: Graham Coxon, a perennial Camden socialite in the 90s, started making engagingly lo- solo material. before eventually leaving acrimoniously in 2002. Bridges were recently mended. but Albarn has made a mint from cartoon bands and world music in the interim. Surely any reunion would be for nostalgic purposes only.

Extracurricular activities Dave Rowntree got his pilot's licence and Alex James moved to the Cotswolds to become a farmer and cheese aficionado. As a semi- retirement vocation, the latter is virtually the most rock'n'roll thing imaginable. (David Pollock)

I Alex James, 9 Aug, 1 .30pm.

£9 (£7).