list.co.uk/festival Previews | FESTIVAL BOOKS
GRAEME MACRAE BURNET Booker Prize longlister talks about his novel MARY M AND BRYAN TALBOT Husband and wife team tackle a feminist icon
His first novel was the stylish crime thriller The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau. And last year, Scottish author Graeme Macrae Burnet released His Bloody Project, a true crime novel that was awarded a place on the Man Booker Prize 2016 longlist in July (the shortlist is announced in September).
While researching his family history, Macrae Burnet discovered the story of Roderick ‘Roddy’ Macrae, a 17-year-old boy from Culduie in Wester Ross who committed a brutal triple murder. This novel is the first time Roddy’s memoir, which he wrote while awaiting trial, has been printed in full. His unromanticised account of life as a crofter in 19th- century Scotland and the events leading up to and including the crime are followed by comments from the psychiatrist who examined him, and an account of his dramatic trial using newspaper reports. It is a novel heavy with foreboding that highlights the complexity of the justice system’s task in determining whether Roddy, or any criminal, is sound of mind.
He is joined at Edinburgh International Book Festival by Cecilia Ekbäck, whose book In The Month of the Midnight Sun also features a brutal triple murder. (Rowena McIntosh) ■ Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 23 Aug, 2pm, £8 (£6).
An anarchist, school teacher, nurse and member of the Paris Commune in the 1800s, Louise Michel was known as ‘the Red Virgin of Montmartre’. She fought during the Siege of Paris and was transported to the South Pacific colony of New Caledonia, where she helped the indigenous people rise up against their French colonial masters, before being pardoned and returning to France. In their new graphic novel adaptation of her life The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia, husband and wife creative team Mary M and Bryan Talbot tell Michel’s singular story while positioning her firmly as a feminist icon. Together, the Talbots are the creators of the
Costa Biography Award winning book Dottir of Her Father’s Eyes (2012), which combined Mary’s life with that of Lucia Joyce, daughter of James. While Mary’s background is in academic writing, Bryan is a celebrated comic artist whose credits stretch from Judge Dredd and Nemesis the Warlock in 2000AD in the 1980s to his own creator-owned works The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Alice in Sunderland and Grandville. For anyone who views graphic novels as one of the 21st century’s boldest storytelling mediums, this event will be essential. (David Pollock) ■ Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 27 Aug, 12.30pm, £12 (£10).
LARA WILLIAMS Treats author sheds poetic light on twentysomething life
It’s always a pleasure to see a small publishing house have a big hit on its hands. That’s what happened earlier this year when Glasgow’s Freight Books published Treats by Manchester-based author Lara Williams. Her strong voice and insightful tales about twentysomething life speaks to women across the country and won an instant army of fans.
Treats is a slim short story collection – if you’ve not read it yet, you should, and it won’t take you more than a couple of hours. But despite its short length, it’s jam packed with wisdom and emotional nuggets about everything from dating and sex to depression and bereavement. Williams’ voice, suffused with the chimes of 24-
hour digital life, might speak most directly to women who’ve left education in the last ten years but praise has come from all ages and genders and it’s also shortlisted for this year’s First Book Award at the Book Festival.
In this Charlotte Square event, Williams is joined by Jan Carson, whose story collection Children’s Children focuses on the social divides of East Belfast. (Yasmin Sulaiman) ■ Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 18 Aug, 8.30pm, £8 (£6).
JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER Love-him-or-hate-him literary megastar comes to town
He was just 25 when his first novel, Everything is Illuminated, was released. Ever since, Jonathan Safran Foer’s been a literary superstar, though he’s continually divided fans and critics along the way. That first book drew on two autobiographical stories: one about the shetl where his mother was born, and the other the journey of a young Jewish American (insert: Foer) to the Ukraine to search for the woman who saved his grandfather’s life.
It was made into a film (starring Elijah Wood as the author
character) just a few years later, and his follow-up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close got the same big screen treatment from British director Stephen Daldry. For bookworms who remember that time vividly, it’s hard to believe it was now 11 years ago. And that’s how long it’s taken Foer to come out with his third novel, Here I Am, published in September.
That’s not to say he’s been dormant since then. In 2010, Foer released Tree of Codes, more of a piece of art than a book, which took Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles and cut out words to make a new story.
A year before that, he released arguably his best piece of writing: Eating Animals, a smart and engaging investigation into American factory farming and the ethical dimensions of vegetarianism. Where his novels veer into schmaltz, Eating Animals is a thoughtful, multi-dimensional portrait of one of the world’s most essential issues and a must-read, whether you eat meat or not. His new novel seems to return to the themes of his early work,
focusing on an American Jewish family in a world where the Middle East is ravaged by an earthquake and Israel has been invaded. Fans (and keen haters) will be able to grab an early copy when he pops up at the Book Festival this month. (Yasmin Sulaiman) ■ Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 28 Aug, 8.15pm, £12 (£10).
18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 31
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