Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: Telling New Stories

We need new stories to guide us through the complex maze of modernity. This strand brings together a dazzling array of world-leading thinkers to help find them.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: Telling New Stories

About Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: Telling New Stories

How do we live with technology without being dominated by it? How do we cherish democracy but avoid the tyranny of the majority? And how do we reap the benefits of globalisation without losing our identities? We need new stories to guide us through the complex maze of modernity. This strand brings together a dazzling array of world-leading thinkers to help find them.

We have collaborated with a range of partners: with The Policy Institute at King’s College London to interrogate notions of trust, democracy, mental health and Brexit; with the Disasters Emergency Committee to look at international aid, climate crisis and humanitarianism; and with author and social activist Hilary Cottam, to interrogate the so-called ‘5th industrial revolution’ with radical re-imaginings of our economic, social and cultural futures. Finally, in an exciting new partnership with The New York Times, we examine some modern-day challenges: the environment, gender, human rights and the role of China.

Kit de Waal with Damian Barr
Saturday 10 August 17:45 - 18:45
The publishing world is finally waking up to the barriers that have prevented working class voices from being heard in books. Kit de Waal grew up in Birmingham’s Irish community and she has successfully broken into the mainstream with two highly acclaimed novels. She talks to Damian Barr about Common People, her book of essays by working class writers, featuring coruscating pieces by authors including Barr himself.

The Future of Humanitarianism
Saturday 10 August 19:30 - 21:00
For many, the Geneva Conventions are an anchor for humanity in times of conflict. On the 70th anniversary of their signing, in the face of threats from climate change, continual inequality and protracted conflicts, our panel asks whether the global humanitarian system is still fit for purpose. How can we best demonstrate our humanity and provide support to the millions who need it? Join the discussion with voices from the Disasters Emergency Committee and surgeon and War Doctor author, David Nott. In partnership with the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Russ Litten & Chris McQueer
Saturday 10 August 20:30 - 21:30
Chris McQueer’s short, side-splitting stories keep coming in HWFG, the follow-up to debut Hings. Nurtured in Scotland’s spoken word scene and described as ‘Charlie Brooker on Buckfast’, his stories illuminate lives on the margins. Novelist Russ Litten foregrounds working class lives in We Know What We Are. His first story collection centres on Hull in its City of Culture year, and has drawn comparisons to James Kelman.

Paul Collier & Colin Mayer
Tuesday 13 August 14:00 - 15:00
A University of Oxford business professor, Colin Mayer is well placed to understand trends and he senses a shift towards businesses serving societies more. Paul Collier, a professor of economics and public policy, who has recently received a knighthood for his work, wonders if capitalism can ever be remoulded. Join them as they discuss their thinking, as outlined in their fascinating books Prosperity and The Future of Capitalism.

Thinktank: Branko Milanovic with Paul Collier
Tuesday 13 August 17:00 - 18:30
Join this in-depth 90-minute session for an insightful discussion about the prevailing global economic system with two of the world’s foremost economics experts. Paul Collier, Oxford University professor of economics and author of The Future of Capitalism is joined by renowned New York-based income inequality expert Branko Milanovic in this small group seminar-style conversation, to mark the publication of his new book, Capitalism, Alone.

What is ‘Gender’ in the 21st Century?
Tuesday 13 August 19:30 - 21:00
The understanding and expression of gender identities is reshaping 21st century society, creating new communities and new points of conflict. So what does modern equality look like? Join the debate with Elizabeth Paton, New York Times European styles correspondent, along with author and speaker Naomi Wolf, New York Times associate managing editor Jodi Rudoren, and Amelia Abraham, author of Queer Intentions as they discuss politics, power, censorship, language and freedom of expression.

Branko Milanovic with Gordon Brown
Wednesday 14 August 17:00 - 18:00
What caused the current crisis of trust in politics? For leading economist Branko Milanovic, the issues go beyond the financial crash of 2008 to the neoliberal revolutions of the 1980s. In his new book Capitalism, Alone, he charts the rise of an economic system that’s now dominant worldwide. Can we find a way to make capitalism work for the many? Milanovic discusses his ideas with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Privacy: Trade-offs in the Digital Era
Wednesday 14 August 19:30 - 21:00
With companies and governments gaining new powers to follow people online, the costs are becoming clearer. Now The New York Times is embarking on The Privacy Project for a deeper understanding of a world without personal boundaries. The New York Times European tech correspondent Adam Satariano discusses privacy and our ever-increasing tech driven world with Kate Devlin, author of Turned On and senior lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence, and Jamie Susskind, author of Future Politics and fellow of Harvard University’s Berkman Center.

Martin Moore & Jamie Susskind
Thursday 15 August 14:00 - 15:00
The landscape of global politics is never stable; yet in the digital age, uncertainty about the direction it will take is rich fodder for debate. Join director of the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power, Martin Moore, with his book Democracy Hacked, and former fellow of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Jamie Susskind, with Future Politics, as they analyse the technology that will either constrain or liberate the electorate.

Mark Boyle & Marc Hamer
Thursday 15 August 16:00 - 17:00
Could you abandon the online world and get back to nature for good? Mark Boyle, founder of the online Freeconomy community and author of The Way Home, tried leaving behind his car, phone and electricity to build a new life with his bare hands. Also a countryside fan, Wales-based writer Marc Hamer describes how studying moles taught him about humanity and its perpetual search for contentment in How to Catch a Mole. Get ready for a discussion on the great outdoors.

Women in Emergencies
Thursday 15 August 19:30 - 21:00
Whilst humanitarian laws including the Geneva Conventions uphold universal obligations to protect all civilians, the reality in most global crises is that women and children suffer the most. Often victims of abuse or neglect, they are voiceless and excluded from the vital support they need to rebuild their lives. Is enough being done to support women when they need it most? Join the discussion and hear stories of incredible strength with the Disasters Emergency Committee and Pulitzer prize-winning war photographer Lynsey Addario. In partnership with the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Kate Devlin
Thursday 15 August 20:45 - 21:45
Sex robots may once have been the domain of science fiction but in Turned On, computer scientist and senior lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence, Kate Devlin asks how emerging technologies are making them a reality. From the automata of the Middle Ages to the sentient robots of the future, she raises ethical questions around gender politics and diversity in this thought-provoking event.

Layla AlAmmar & Chloe Aridjis
Friday 16 August 15:30 - 16:30
Layla AlAmmar & Chloe Aridjis
Layla AlAmmar was signed by her US agent after an open call for Muslim writers following President Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Her debut, The Pact We Made, traverses family, duty and freedom in contemporary Kuwait. The revelatory Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis, whose fans include Ali Smith and Paul Auster, has been described as 'a poetics of the strange’. They discuss travel and independence in these works of great scope.

Getting Under the Skin of Eating
Friday 16 August 19:30 - 21:00
What we eat and where it comes from is becoming increasingly complex. What is a healthy diet and how secure are our food sources? With more and more diet advice being published every day, veganism making the news headlines and the growth of gene-based diets, it’s easy to get lost trying to understand our own and the planet’s health. We ask our expert panel if there really is a perfect way to eat.

Sue Armstrong & Daniela Mari
Sunday 18 August 12:30 - 13:30
With an ageing global population, the question of how to live long and well has never been more pertinent. In Borrowed Time, science writer Sue Armstrong harnesses the latest research to ask how and why we age. In Breakfast with the Centenarians, gerontology expert Daniela Mari turns to supercentenarians to learn the art of growing old. Together, they unpack the secrets to a long life, in converstaion with Sheena McDonald.

Futureproofing Food
Sunday 18 August 19:30 - 21:00
How do we feed the world and look after the planet? And can we do it fairly? Could food become a bridge to a better world? Our experts shed light on some of the biggest questions we face today and discuss what our future might look like. The panel is led by food and drinks writer Nikki Welch and includes: Robyn Metcalfe, author of Food Routes, Helen Browning, author of Pig and Chief Executive of the Soil Association, and Dieter Helm, a professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford, who's written Green and Prosperous Land.

Erika Fatland
Monday 19 August 11:00 - 12:00
The collapse of the Soviet Union brought about new states across eastern Europe and central Asia, often routinely ignored by the West. Norwegian writer and social anthropologist Erika Fatland journeyed across the five ‘Stans’ which once made up the Soviet border, encountering conflicts between history and future, exhausted human rights activists and falling dictators. Hear her odyssey, detailed in Sovietistan, in today’s discussion.

Be a Man, My Son
Monday 19 August 19:30 - 21:00
Broughton High School in Edinburgh and Leith’s Super Power Agency have teamed up on an innovative project involving a group of young male students. They’re being challenged to think about being a man today: the pressures, concerns, role models and definitions of success. Come and hear a fascinating discussion about modern masculinity with teacher Rory Brown, Super Power Agency CEO Gerald Richards, and YA novelist Brian Conaghan.

Adham Saouli
Tuesday 20 August 12:15 - 13:15
Join Adham Saouli from the renowned School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews for a thought-provoking discussion on the political trajectory of Hezbollah. For decades, the consensus has been that establishing an Islamic state in Lebanon was the group’s main goal. In Hezbollah Saouli, who has spent 15 years researching the armed political movement, analyses their origins, socialisation and motivations.

Brexit: Falling Out
Tuesday 20 August 19:30 - 21:00
Whatever the outcome, Brexit has changed how the UK is viewed at home, internationally and even how other countries approach their own political disillusionment. This discussion brings together academics, politicians and commentators to examine the implications of changed perspectives, including what it means for Scotland's future. Our panel is led by Anand Menon, professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London and includes: journalist and broadcaster Gavin Esler, who’s also the chancellor of the University of Kent and has written Brexit Without The Bullshit; Helen Thompson, professor of Political Economy at the University of Cambridge and Meg Russell, professor of British and Comparative Politics and director of the Constitution Unit at UCL. Presented in partnership with The Policy Institute, King's College London.

Bobby Duffy
Wednesday 21 August 15:45 - 16:45
We’re quick to blame fake news and the web for our post-truth age, but perhaps we just don’t know the facts about the world around us. That’s what Bobby Duffy, director of King's College London's Policy Institute, suggests in The Perils of Perception. Drawing on his sharp analysis of ignorance and the gaps between what we think and what’s true, Duffy presents ideas which may change how you see the world.

Children's Mental Health
Wednesday 21 August 19:30 - 21:00
Almost 400,000 children a year are being treated for mental health problems and estimates suggest over 100,000 British 14 year olds are self-harming. An apparent increase has sparked reports of a crisis, but could it be that improved understanding has identified conditions previously missed? Do we risk over-medicalising our children’s quirks and what are the consequences? Professor of psychological medicine Simon Wessely, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry Helen Minnis, head teacher John Tomsett, the Times columnist Suzi Godson, and Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas discuss the issues. In partnership with The Policy Institute, King’s College London.

Will Storr with Charles Fernyhough
Thursday 22 August 15:45 - 16:45
Storytelling is a human gift that’s been handed down for thousands of years. In The Science of Storytelling Will Storr, the AIB International Award-winning journalist and popular novelist, speculates on whether humans should actually be better at this art than we seem to be, given how crucial stories are to the way the world functions. Storr discusses his ideas with acclaimed writer and psychologist Charles Fernyhough.

Suketu Mehta
Thursday 22 August 19:15 - 20:15
Having been away from Edinburgh since 2010, when he brought the award-winning Maximum City, we’re thrilled to welcome Suketu Mehta back with This Land Is Our Land – an impassioned defence of global migration. The West, he argues, is being destroyed not by immigrants, but by fear of them. In this scintillating polemic, the New York University Associate Professor of Journalism makes a persuasive case for greater freedom of movement.

Trust in Crisis: Fact or Fiction?
Thursday 22 August 19:30 - 21:00
Bankers, clergy, journalists and politicians have all suffered crushing blows leading our trust in them to plummet. But the trends in trust are not what you might think from the headlines, so why do some groups talk up a perpetual ‘crisis of trust’? Join our panel for a fascinating discussion: Bobby Duffy, director of The Policy Institute at King’s College London; Robert Phillips, CEO of Jericho Chambers – a consultancy committed to creating a better society; Gerry Stoker, professor of politics and governance at Southampton University; Kelly Beaver, visiting senior research fellow at King's College London; and Maria Baghramian, professor of philosophy at University College Dublin. In partnership with The Policy Institute, King’s College London.

John Browne
Friday 23 August 15:45 - 16:45
Technological advancements have been speedier and more dangerous in the last 50 years than in several previous centuries combined, but former BP CEO John Browne thinks today’s engineering brains should be encouraged to keep innovating. Striving to make the future better always comes with some negative consequences but in Make, Think, Imagine, Browne argues that restraint would lead to worse. He shares his ideas with James Naughtie.

Deliberative Democracy
Friday 23 August 19:30 - 21:00
Brexit has laid bare the flaws of representative democracy and binary referenda for complex issues. People’s sense of separation from the political process helped drive the Brexit vote. Could greater use of deliberative democracy, through Citizen Assemblies, have helped? Do they increase connection with government or create new problems in turn? Our panel – featuring Professor Peter John from King’s College London, Professor James Fishkin of Stanford University, Stella Creasy MP, Tim Hughes from Involve and Claudia Chwalisz at OECD Open Government Unit – discuss. In partnership with The Policy Institute, King’s College London.

Paul Mason
Friday 23 August 20:30 - 21:30
Faith in technological progress has verged on religious, but recently our trust in many things – truth, leadership, the digital world – has been badly dented. Paul Mason senses catastrophe. The popular political commentator thinks we need a humanist reframing of our relationship with tech, and a refusal to let the machines take over. Today he shares ideas from his new book Clear Bright Future with journalist Ruth Wishart.

Pete Etchells
Saturday 24 August 12:15 - 13:15
According to some people, video games are a threat to both our physical and mental health. Psychology lecturer and video games researcher Pete Etchells does not hold that view. Instead, he believes they can be of great benefit to individuals and, in his own case, had a positive effect in helping him grieve after the death of his father. Hear his thoughts today.

Radical Economics: The Fifth Industrial Revolution
Saturday 24 August 19:30 - 20:45
At a critical moment of transition, what new forms of thinking and practice are necessary to underpin an economic revolution that would support good, sustainable lives? This event, the first in a series of discussions, sees social activist and author of Radical Help, Hilary Cottam, talking to co-founder of Rethinking Economics, Yuan Yang, and Mariana Mazzucato, author of The Value of Everything and professor of Economics of Innovation and Public Value. Carlota Perez, a specialist in technology and socio-economic development provides video contributions.

Radical Practice: The Fifth Social Revolution
Sunday 25 August 19:30 - 20:45
There has been a pattern of industrial revolutions leading to seismic social change. Last century saw an oil-based revolution bring us state welfare systems, which transformed lives but now face new challenges. Today, radical practitioners from Scotland and beyond share their experiences of leading new forms of change. Social activist and author of Radical Help, Hilary Cottam talks to Katie Kelly from Safer Communities, Baljeet Sandhu from The Lived Experience, Donna Hall CBE, Chief Executive at Wigan Council, and Kajal Odedra from Change.org, author of Do Something: Activism for Everyone.

Eleanor Gordon-Smith & Nesrine Malik
Monday 26 August 11:00 - 12:00
As the centre ground erodes and culture wars rage, two intersectional books challenge beliefs and topple foundational myths. In Stop Being Reasonable, rising star reporter Eleanor Gordon-Smith speaks to people who have profoundly changed their opinions. Award-winning Guardian journalist Nesrine Malik's We Need New Stories scrutinises frames of reference that are no longer fit for purpose. Come along with an open mind.

India After the Elections
Monday 26 August 14:15 - 15:15
In 2018, elections across Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka produced surprising results. Populism is on the rise in India too, as voters reject traditional parties as corrupt. In light of recent general election results and the inheritance of Modi’s policies, which for many represent the broad stroke reversal of democratic change, what are the wider implications for the world’s largest democracy? This panel brings together writers, including Meena Kandasamy and Talat Ahmed, to reflect on how these controversial developments play out on the wider stage of South Asia.

Radical Imaginations: Stories of the Revolution
Monday 26 August 19:30 - 20:45
A technology revolution is fast transforming our work, society, homes and bodies. Today, international writers join social activist and author of Radical Help, Hilary Cottam, to look at the power of storytelling and fiction in stirring revolution. Author of Lowborn Kerry Hudson and Australian activist and writer Felicity Castagna, alongside author of A Cost of Living, Deborah Levy, discuss how stories bring us together and create spaces in the imagination for action.

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