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Glasgow’s Aye Write book festival announces stellar line-up of live events

Glasgow’s Aye Write book festival announces stellar line-up of live events

Glasgow’s Aye Write book festival launched a star-studded programme of events today (25 March), which will run across three weekends from 6-22 May. 

Heralding its return to live events in venues across the city, the Aye Write line-up is as eclectic and exciting as ever, with, amongst many others: Olivier Award-winning actress and bestselling author Celia Imrie on her most recent novel Orphans of the Storm; veteran BBC journalist Justin Webb with his memoir The Gift of a Radio; Rapper, social commentator and author of The Social Distance Between Us, Darren McGarvey; Channel 4 news presenter Symeon Brown with Get Rich or Lie Trying; and former Radio 1 DJ Annie Macmanus with her bestselling novel Mother Mother.

TV legend Chris Tarrant joins the festival cast this year, sharing stories from his fifty years (so far!) in the business, as does TikTok sensation, ‘Wellerman’ singer and author of The Book of Sea Shanties, Nathan Evans.

The annual Glasgow bookish extravaganza is produced by Glasgow Life, one of Scotland’s largest charities whose mission is to inspire every citizen and visitor to become engaged and active in a city globally renowned for culture and sport. The festivals are supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across Scotland.

Aye Write will this year be held predominantly in person, not only at the Mitchell Library, but also across other city venues, including Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall and Tramway.   Following the success though of online events in 2021, some digital events will continue to feature in this year’s programme, headlined by Damon Galgut, winner of last year’s Booker Prize for The Promise, and sponsored by Rathbones Folio Prize.    

Running over 3 consecutive weekends, Fri 6-Sun 8, Thurs 12-Sun 15 and Thurs 19-Sun 22 May, the festival this year boasts more than two-hundred author talks and panel events with speakers from all walks of life, including: stars of stage and screen, celebrated journalists, veteran broadcasters, social commentators, politicians, musicians, new literary voices and stalwarts of Scottish literature, historians, archaeologists, explorers and naturalists.  And much more besides.

This year’s Aye Write programme is an inspiring reflection of our world today as we emerge from the global pandemic and are able to reflect upon how it has changed us and our world -- sometimes for the worse; often for the better.

Professor Devi Sridhar and Jason Leitch – such a familiar face in Scotland during the pandemic -- set out a vision for how we can better protect ourselves from the inevitable health crises to come, and writer, critic and playwright Ben Aitken explores, alongside philosopher and traveller Will Buckingham, the pandemic and its unexpected and life-affirming connections as well as its enforced separations.

That notion of ‘connection’ is a powerful and pervasive one this year, and not least when set in the context of mental health.  BAFTA and Emmy award-winning writer of Succession Georgia Pritchett, whose credits include VeepHave I Got News for YouSmack the PonyMiranda and The Thick of It, to name but a few, knows a thing or two about anxiety, and shares her bestselling memoir My Mess is a bit of a Life. 

Continuing the theme of powerful female stories, outspoken MP Jess Phillips gives a typically funny and honest insight into the drama of Westminster and life as an MP beyond that most public of stages. 

Taking to the Aye Write stage, too, is Louise Welsh, a professor of creative writing at the University of Glasgow whose most recent novel The Second Cut is the long-awaited sequel to her award-winning The Cutting Room.  She shares the programme with emerging literary talents Kenny Boyle and Claire Alexander, and writer and poet Leela Soma, whose brainchild The Kavya Prize has just been launched in association with the University of Glasgow, seeking to encourage and celebrate published work and new writing by Scotland’s ethnically diverse communities. The winner of the prize will be announced at Aye Write.

Scottish crime-writing royalty will also be in attendance in the form of favourites Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman as Ambrose Parry, Stuart MacBride, Brian McGilloway, Alex Gray and Douglas Skelton.

And shedding light on crimes in the real world are Nazir Afzal, the Chief Prosecutor who was at the forefront of the British legal system for decades; Kevin Maxwell, who tells his story of being a gay, black man and a police officer in Forced Out; and Channel 4 news presenter Symeon Brown with his Get Rich or Lie Trying, which lifts the lid on the social media influencer culture, exposing the murk that lies beneath the filtered selfies and gleaming smiles.

Producing plenty of genuine smiles and lots of giggles, though, will be Wee Write, the book festival for children and young people, which runs at the earlier time of 25-30 April, and which this year offers delights for all ages, including: Harry Potter cover illustrator Jonny Duddle, celebrating 25 years of Harry Potter Magic; Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon and Dennis the Menace illustrator Steve May with their new collaboration, Two Terrible Vikings and Grunt the Berserker; a draw-off event with author-illustrators Tom Morgan Jones and Sophie Henn; and a very special meet-and-greet and storytelling session with children’s favourite The Gruffalo.

Aye Write programmer, Bob McDevitt, said: "There is no doubt in our minds that Glasgow is raring to get going with this year’s Aye Write festival.  It’s been a long two years since we were last allowed to gather at venues like the fabulous Mitchell Library to talk about the books we love – and the books we don’t yet know we love – with those who have ploughed their hearts and souls into creating them.  That is a special and unique opportunity, and one that we know our Glasgow audiences relish.

"I’m especially inspired, this year, by the mix of authors: those long-established and much-acclaimed; those who are just coming into our field of vision; those with their own personal stories to tell; and those whose mission it is to tell the stories of others.

"Storytelling is what we’re all about here at Aye Write, and we hope that our packed 2022 programme will be the next compelling chapter in our very own story.”

Wee Write programmer, Fiona Haddow, said: "What could cheer us more this spring than finally being able to welcome back to live events Glasgow’s youngest book fans, and their families!  We’re beyond excited to see the grins on little (and not so little) faces as they get the chance to share their love of books, and all the joy they bring, with their families, friends, and with other little bookworms. 

"We’re thrilled to share in the celebrations of 25 years of Harry Potter Magic, and are honoured to be able to introduce so many Gruffalo fans to their hero. In fact, I think we’re already feeling a little star struck ourselves!"

Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland, said: "Aye Write and Wee Write have once again announced an impressive line-up of home-grown talent alongside acclaimed writers and well-known faces from further afield.  This year’s programme demonstrates an impressive range of genres and literary forms and invites audiences both in venues across Glasgow and online to reflect on important issues impacting society today."

The full programmes are available now on the Aye Write website.

Pictured above are TikTok sensation and ‘Wellerman’ singer Nathan Evans; poet Leela Soma; novelist Louise Welsh; and debut authors Kenny Boyle and Claire Alexander who will all be appearing at the festival in May.