The Islay Book Festival committee members have been busy bees in the last few months, and we are so very happy to unveil our 2023 programme!
This year’s festival, including school and children’s events, will take place from Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 September.
Our general programme at the Gaelic College will kick off on Friday 8 September for a special evening with the Hebridean Baker, sponsored by Jura Distillery. Expect Gaelic singing, stories, recipes, a cocktail demonstration, and even a baking competition!
On Saturday, Kapka Kassabova will start the day off with an event fittingly sponsored by The Botanist around her stunning new book Elixir, which focuses on the wild plant gatherers of the valley of the Mesta in her native Bulgaria.
The next speaker will bring us back closer to our shores. Angus Peter Campbell will talk about his new novel in English, Electricity, a beautiful ode to island life, as well as tell us what it was like to translate George Orwell’s Animal Farm into the Gaelic Tuathanas nan Creutairean.
The afternoon will see us move on to poetry as Gerda Stevenson reads from her latest collection, Tomorrow’s Feast, which centres on the legacy faced by the next generation.
After poetry, romance will be in the spotlight as the Scottish queen of ‘Feel Good Fiction’, Jenny Colgan, presents The Summer Skies, her new escapist stand-alone novel set in the Scottish islands.
And to wrap up this busy day, what could be better than a fascinating Tartan Noir panel? Marisa Haetzman, writing under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry with husband Chris Brookmyre, will be in conversation with Sarah Smith, to chat about their respective historical fictions, Voices of the Dead and Hear No Evil.
On Sunday, Alan Warner will take us on a famous Hebridean journey in Scottish history as he discusses Nothing Left to Fear from Hell, his latest short novel about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape after the Battle of Culloden.
Chitra Ramaswamy will follow with what promises to be a moving event about her book Homelands, inspired by her friendship with Holocaust survivor Henry Wuga, who escaped Nazi Germany as part of the Kindertransport to settle in Glasgow.
Our Sunday afternoon session will be all about palaeontology, as Steve Brusatte presents his two popular science books The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs and The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, drawing from the fossil discoveries Steve and his team have made on the Isle of Skye over the past decade.
Alongside this exciting general programme, Gerda Stevenson will run a poetry workshop at Ardbeg Distillery on Sunday afternoon (booking essential as places are limited), and there will also be two children’s events: Anne and Steve Brusatte will visit MYFOS in Port Ellen on Thursday for an after-school session around their picture book Dugie the Dinosaur, while Philip Reeve will present his Utterly Dark middle-grade series at the Mactaggart Leisure Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Our varied school programme will include sessions with Lari Don, Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve, Anne and Steve Brusatte, and Angus Peter Campbell for a visit to the Gaelic Medium Unit. Alan Warner, Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve will also visit the students of Islay High School.
And Gerda Stevenson will bring poetry and songs to the residents of Gortanvogie Care Home.
Mindful of the cost of living crisis, we’ve kept the price of tickets for our general programme low at £5 (£3.50 concession) per event, and, for best value, you can also purchase a festival pass for £30 (£20). Children’s events at MYFOS and the Mactaggart Leisure Centre are free.
For more information about the individual events and to find out exact times and book tickets, click here.
We hope to see many of you join us in September for a big celebration of words and stories!