A well-known BBC TV presenter, a T S Eliot prize-winner, an Australian poet, an opera critic and the author of a book entitled Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs are among those set to feature at this year’s Wordplay book festival.
The annual Shetland Arts-run event will take place from 31st August until 9th September. The programme will include writing workshops, author events, book launches and children’s events, including a visit from Scottish Opera with “A Little Bit of Northern Light” for those aged from four to nine.
The festival’s most recognisable name is Sally Magnusson, one of the faces of Reporting Scotland and daughter of the late writer and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson. She will deliver a talk on Life of Pee, her book about the central influence urine had on the way western industry developed over the centuries.
Magnusson will also be joined by her husband, the acclaimed writer and film director Norman Stone, to transport children into the world of Horace the Haggis. Stone has illustrated his wife’s first foray into kids’ books, and their joint talk holds the promise of readings, on-the-spot drawings and even some animation.
Oxford-educated Scottish writer and prize-winning journalist Val McDermid, who has turned out crime novels at the rate of nearly one a year since the late 1980s, also forms part of the line-up. She has won numerous awards, including the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year in 2007 for The Torment of Others, and is due to unveil her latest, Vanishing Point, in September.
Other intriguing names include author Rodge Glass, a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University and associate editor at Cargo Publishing. He penned the novels No Fireworks and Hope for Newborns, as well as a highly-rated biography of esteemed Scottish writer Alasdair Gray. His latest novel, Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs, was published in April.
Poet John Burnside’s most recent collection, Black Cat Bone, won the T S Eliot prize and the Forward Prize for Poetry. He teaches at St Andrews University, also writes memoir and fiction and set his most recent novel, A Summer of Drowning, in the Arctic Circle.
Also on the bill is Luke Jennings, a novelist and opera critic for The Guardian. His fly fishing memoir, Blood Knots: Of Fathers, Friendship and Fishing, was shortlisted for the 2010 Samuel Johnson and William Hill prizes. He has also published three novels, Beach Candy, Beauty Story and the Booker Prize-nominated Atlantic.
A local name is Shetland author Jim Mainland, who has published widely in The New Shetlander and other magazines. He writes poetry and fiction and his 2002 collection A Package of Measures is described as “displaying a quietly philosophical mind, coupled with genuine virtuosity”.
A familiar name returning to these shores is Christine De Luca, who was born and brought up in Shetland but lives in Edinburgh. Writing in both English and Shetland dialect, she has had five collections of poetry published, the most recent being 2010’s North End of Eden. She has appeared at book festivals in Norway, Finland, France, Italy, India and Canada and had her first novel And then forever published by The Shetland Times.
Swede Karin Altenberg, who moved to Britain in 1996 and boasts a PhD in archaeology, will also make the trip north. Her St. Kilda-set debut novel Island of Wings, which made the Orange Prize longlist, came out earlier this year.
Australian poetry writer Ron Pretty, playwright and filmmaker Angus Reid and Scottish poet Robin Robertson also feature in the packed line-up.
Shetland Arts literature development officer Donald Anderson said: “It is immensely exciting to see such a wide variety of writers and the public can keep an eye on Shetland Arts’ website for the release of the full programme soon.”
* Tickets for the events will go on sale in August from www.shetlandboxoffice.org. See this Friday’s Shetland Times for an interview with Sally Magnusson, who discusses her writing career and her forthcoming visit to the islands.