Our committee has been busy putting together an exciting line-up for this year’s Islay Book Festival on 8-10 September, and we couldn’t wait to share the names of our guest authors with you ahead of the busy season.
Coinneach MacLeod, aka The Hebridean Baker, will open the festivities with his stories and recipes.
Tartan noir will be well represented, with the presence of Ambrose Parry and Sarah Smith.
Jenny Colgan will come to argue that Scotland, and its islands in particular, are a great setting for romance, not only for murder.
Multi-talented Angus Peter Campbell will present his latest novel in English, chat about translating George Orwell into Gaelic, and possibly share a bit about his acting career.
Gerda Stevenson will put poetry on the programme, while Alan Warner will regale us with the Hebridean adventures of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
British and European history will feature prominently in Chitra Ramaswamy’s event, while Kapka Kassabova will tell us what the Bulgarian forests hold in common with the Scottish Highlands.
Palaeontologist Steve Brusatte will talk about the history of life on Earth, and be joined by his wife Anne to visit Islay schools with their picture book inspired by the Isle of Skye’s fossil finds. Star storyteller Lari Don will undoubtedly delight pupils’ imagination. And last but not least, super duo Sarah McIntyre & Philip Reeve will be back to the island to present their new series.
Needless to say, we have a fantastic programme in the works for you, and we’ll be back soon with more detailed information about all our authors’ books and individual events. Stay tuned!
The Islay Book Festival AGM took place on 18 December 2022 at the Gaelic College, and we’re delighted to announce that we’ve formed a new, enthusiastic committee, complete with new office bearers.
Lyn Rogers has been voted in as secretary, Darren Hehir as treasurer, Isla Rosser-Owen as vice-chair and Charlène Busalli as chair. The other committee members are Carolyn Ferguson, Heather Harvey, Sue Hehir, Ingrid Hill and Richard Mansbridge.
We would like to say a huge thank you to all previous committee members for their tremendous work: the Islay Book Festival wouldn’t be the fantastic event that we all know without them. We are also very grateful to Isla Rosser-Owen for remaining as vice-chair for the time being, so that we can have a smooth handover over the next few months, as we organise our first physical edition since 2019.
The festival has grown considerably over the years and that year, around 35 events were held across Islay and Jura. As an almost completely renewed committee, we have decided to scale down a bit for our 2023 edition, but the general orientation will remain the same, with both public and school events, including a Gaelic programme. Here are the dates to put down in your diaries: Friday 8 to Sunday 10 September 2023.
We look forward to working with other local organisations to make it yet another fantastic edition. If there are any writers/illustrators you would like to be considered as guest authors for future editions, do not hesitate to pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also open to new committee members and would be particularly keen on welcoming within our team a Gaelic speaker to help us with our Gaelic programme, a Jura resident, as well as one or two youth committee members. We’re also always on the lookout for volunteers to help us around festival time, so do give us a shout if this might be something of interest.
All of us at the Islay Book Festival would like to wish a happy, healthy, successful New Year to all Ilich, Diurich and Ileach readers on farther shores!
Donald S Murray is the author of two critically-acclaimed novels set on his native Isle of Lewis. His debut, As The Women Lay Dreaming, which deals with the aftermath of the tragic sinking of the Iolaire, a ship carrying island soldiers home from World War I, won the Paul Torday Memorial Prize.
His latest work, In a Veil of Mist, which The Times described as a “moving portrait of a place and its people,” is set in 1950s Lewis against the backdrop of Operation Cauldron, the secret testing of biological weapons on animals on board a ship anchored in the Minch.
Donald is also a poet and a prolific producer of non-fiction writing, much of it dealing with the nature and cultural heritage of the Hebrides. In 2018 he came to the Islay Book Festival with his book The Dark Stuff: Stories from the Peatlands and he’ll be joining us again via Zoom on 10 June to share some of his latest poetry while exploring how peat landscapes and the peat-cutting tradition have given his work the flavour of an Islay whisky.
As a taster for that event, part of the Islay and Jura Peatlands Project being run by the Islay Natural History Trust, the festival’s Angus MacKinnon caught up with Donald for a chat about all things peat, his latest projects and life under lockdown.
Continue reading “Donald S Murray talks peatlands”
We have reluctantly decided to cancel this year’s event due to the continuing uncertainty over travel and other restrictions linked to the Covid pandemic.
We are not confident of being able to hold a physical festival towards the end of the summer and so have decided to cut our losses and cancel now.
And while we learnt a lot from our online programme last year, and are incredibly grateful for everyone’s contributions and support from across the globe, our feeling is that live events on the island are really what our festival is all about and we don’t want to move too far away from that.
We also feel there is no point trying to compete in a now very cluttered digital landscape.
However, we have decided instead to try and organise some one-off book events this year to support a couple of local publications coming out in May and June respectively. These events will most likely be held online over the summer months.
In the meantime, we’ll be working away in the background on a future strategy for the festival and in particular to try to secure longer-term funding for our activities. We look forward to coming back with a bang in 2022!
A lot of conversations are being had at the moment about how long author videos should be kept online. Will anyone value the content if it’s available indefinitely? Would anyone pay to attend an online event if they can already watch the same author on YouTube for free?
We thought we’d take a stance and remove access to our 2020 festival events at the end of January. We want to encourage people to value online author events as much as they would physical events, and we want to be fair to authors, audiences and other festivals hoping to engage online. This is our way of committing to a level playing field.
Please make the most of the next two weeks and catch up on last year’s wee digital Islay Book Festival while you can! You can find them all here.
The Islay Book Festival AGM will take place at 12 noon on Saturday 6 February. This is a delayed AGM from 2020, as due to various difficulties caused by Covid, we were unable to hold it before the end of the year. This AGM will therefore present on our 2019-20 activity, but will also include a summary of our 2020-21 activity so far to keep everyone up to date.
The AGM will be conducted on Zoom and is open to members and residents of Islay and Jura. If you would like to attend, please register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMpdOGtqjMvGdwdz_3dmHHPjjgFPYkn1uTE
Please do just get in touch if you have any queries or if you would like to attend but are not currently a member: hello[at]islaybookfestival.co.uk
Islay and the rest of the Highlands and Islands are facing a “calamitous” fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, one of Scotland’s leading historians has warned.
Speaking to The Ileach ahead of his participation in this year’s online Islay Book Festival, Professor Jim Hunter said the collapse of tourism under lockdown underlined the need for new thinking on how to diversify island economies and unlock their full potential.
Continue reading “Islands facing “calamitous” Covid fallout”
Angus MacKinnon previews this month’s online Islay Book Festival.
Scots Makar Jackie Kay has agreed to open this month’s Islay Book Festival in a welcome filip for the event, which is being held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alexander McCall Smith, the bestselling author famed for his uplifting storytelling and optimistic view of the world, will also help deliver a literary tonic for troubled times.
The big names’ support was described as ‘fabulous news’ by festival chair Isla Rosser-Owen. ‘Alexander McCall Smith is a global bestseller and Jackie always has something insightful and interesting to say. We’re really looking forward to hosting them and of course all the other writers taking part in our first digital festival.’
Real-time poetry writing with Kornel Kossuth, a children’s ‘How to Draw a Dragon’ session with Kate Leiper, and music from Islay Sessions regular Gráinne Brady and The Bookshop Band are also on the menu for the 27–30 August event.
Continue reading “Literary stars to deliver online tonic for troubled times”