Ullapool Book Festival turns thirteen in May. But instead of becoming a sulky teenager it is acting all grown-up and has invited a spectacular line up of writers.
Fiction is represented by an array of authors from debut novelists to well established names. Graeme Macrae Burnet who was shortlisted for the Booker in 2016, novelist, playwright and poet Chris Dolan, A.L. Kennedy whose awards include the 2007 Costa Prize, Val McDermid who is a No.1 bestseller and whose novels have sold over fifteen million copies, James Robertson whose novels include Joseph Knight, The Testament of Gideon Mack, and And the Land Lay Still are joined by debut novelists Dorothy Alexander, Martin Cathcart Froden and Allyson Stack.
Three brilliant poets have also been invited. Multiple award winner Don Paterson who was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2009; writer and performer Harry Giles whose latest publication Tonguit was shortlisted for the 2014 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and the 2016 Forward Prize for Best First Collection; Hollie McNish has garnered over two million Youtube views for her online poetry performances.
The festival is bringing three very different non-fiction writers. Gavin Francis is a writer and doctor, author of True North (2008), Empire Antarctica (2012), and Adventures in Human Being (2015). His books have been awarded prizes in the Scottish Book Awards, Saltire Awards, and BMA book awards. Almost twenty years ago David Alston began to research the involvement of Highland Scots in the slave plantations of the Caribbean. He is now one among a growing number of Scottish historians to acknowledge and explore Scotland’s connections to slavery and the slave trade. Paul MacAlindin has been a full time classical musician since 1993 and for six years was musical director of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.
This year’s Canadian writer is Michael Winter who was brought up in Newfoundland. This follows the festival’s well established tradition of inviting Canadian authors. Previous Canadian guests include Alistair MacLeod, Alexander MacLeod, Wayne Johnston, Michael Crummey, Linden Macintyre, Lisa Moore and Lynn Coady. Michael Winter has won the Writers' Trust Notable Author Award, and his work has been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
Once again there will be a session in Gaelic using simultaneous translation and this year the guest will be academic, writer and poet Donald Meek who has published many books and articles, and holds the degree of Doctor of Letters of both Glasgow and Cambridge.
The festival’s two early morning 30 minute sessions will be filled by Moniack Mhor prize-winners and by Brian Macleod from Sutherland whose book Wherever I Eat My Bread has the stories of immigrants to the Highlands.
But no festival would be complete without a dance so on the Friday there will be the amazing Cask Strength Ceilidh Band. The band has graced stages around the world from the Royal Albert Hall to Edinburgh Castle, and London’s Hyde Park to New York’s Tartan week. But May is Ullapool’s turn.
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