Ullapool Book Festival has a well-deserved reputation for bringing a magnificent array of home-grown and international writing talent to the North West of Scotland and this year is no exception. From Friday 8 – Sunday 10 May, the festival is sure to pack a big punch with an array of celebrated writers including Man Booker International Prize winner, Jokha Alharthi, Eda Ahi, an Estonian poet and translator whose latest work, Sõda ja rahutus (War and Perturbation), was awarded the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s Award for Poetry, and Sir Tom Devine, whose recent bestselling book on the Scottish Clearances has been acclaimed as a masterpiece. Jokha’s book, Celestial Bodies, was translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth, the prize being shared equally between the two, and UBF organisers are delighted to announce that Marilyn will be joining Jokha at the festival.
There will be more book talk with authors Chris Dolan and Donald S. Murray. Chris, who also serves as Honorary President of UBF, writes for stage, screen, and radio as well as page. His recent work includes an adaptation of Stevenson’s Kidnapped for Radio 4. He will be taking to the stage to discuss his forthcoming book, Everything Passes, Everything Remains. Former secondary school teacher, Donald, who is from Ness on the Isle of Lewis, will be discussing his highly commended book about the Iolaire disaster, As the Women Lay Dreaming. There will also be a showing at the festival of So Close to Home, a film produced by Lewis singer Alyth McCormack as part of an exhibition on the Iolaire. Alyth tells the story from her perspective as a child whose grandfather was a teenager when he witnessed the tragedy first-hand from the headland.
Poetry lovers will be delighted by sessions featuring prize-winning poets Miriam Gamble and Jim Carruth. Originally from Belfast, Miriam has lived in Scotland since 2010 and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. She will be reading work from her latest collection, What Planet. Jim, the current poet laureate of Glasgow, continues to explore the impact of change on farming communities in his latest collection, Bale Fire.
Non-fiction is represented by Fiona J Mackenzie, David Gange, Kerry Hudson and Tina Calder. Fiona will talk about Eilean, the book of Margaret Fay Shaw’s photographs that she edited. Along with her husband, folklorist John Lorne Campbell, Shaw created the world’s finest treasury of Hebridean song, story, image and folklore. Fiona’s talk will include some film and sound recordings from the 1930s and 1940s. Nature writer and photographer, David Gange, kayaked the weather-ravaged coasts of Atlantic Britain and Ireland from Shetland to The Channel, exploring every cove, sound, inlet, island for his book, The Frayed Atlantic Edge. In Lowborn, her first work of non-fiction, Kerry Hudson revisits the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed. Journalist and publisher with Excalibur Press in Belfast, Tina Calder will be discussing Angels With Blue Faces by murdered journalist Lyra McKee which was published posthumously on behalf of her family.
Words meet music in 365, an exciting trio consisting of one of Scotland’s most celebrated authors, James Robertson, acclaimed traditional musician, Aidan O’Rourke, and heavyweight of the European jazz scene, Kit Downes. Based on James’ book of 365 short stories, each containing 365 words, expect the unexpected in this evocative and original collaboration. As if that’s not enough, festival goers can expect the roof to be blown off on Saturday night with the appearance of Fun Lovin’Crime Writers. The band, consisting of crime writers Stuart Neville, Mark Billingham, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Luca Veste and Chris Brookmyre, have been a massive hit at literary and music festivals, including Glastonbury, over the past three years. Be prepared to dance your socks off at this unique rock ’n’ roll experience.
No UBF would be complete without a Canadian writer and this year the festival is delighted to welcome critically acclaimed and award-winning author of six books, Lynn Coady. Her latest novel Watching You Without Me was published in Canada in autumn 2019.
Not everyone is able to attend the festival so the festival takes itself to them and this year Ian Stephen, poet, novelist, storyteller from Lewis, will undertake outreach work when he visits care homes and groups in Ullapool. The festival is grateful to Highland Council Ward Discretionary Fund and to the EDF/Lochbroom Community Council microgrant for assistance towards the cost of this.
For the third year running, festival goers will have the opportunity to hear authors short-listed for the Highland Book Prize read from their work before the winner is announced in the evening. This will be the third year of the Highland Book Prize which was set up by The Highland Society of London.
Tickets go on sale at the end of March. Up-to-date information is published on the festival website and on Facebook and Twitter and sent out to its mailing list. This year’s early bird weekend tickets sold out in less than 16 hours, so keep up to date and make sure you don’t miss out on what promises to be an exciting and highly enjoyable weekend of words, music and inspiration.
Ullapool Book Festival has received funding from Creative Scotland towards the 2020 festival.