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A New Chapter for The Edinburgh International Book Festival

  24 Aug '21   |  Posted by: Birlinn

This year, The Edinburgh International Book Festival are staging a hybrid programme of over 250 events from their new home at the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh College of Art.

Alexander McCall Smith and fellow author Jamie Jauncey were joined by a sold-out audience within the Sculpture Court theatre, as well as by audiences enjoying a live-streamed performance from home or from the EIBF outdoor courtyard. As ever, McCall Smith’s optimism and vitality was infectious. Taking the crowd on a journey from Edinburgh’s New Town to the tea plantations of Sri Lanka, McCall Smith payed homage to the weird and wonderful acts of human kindness that prevail even amid the most arduous of circumstances. The latest extract from Love in the Time of Bertie, the most recent instalment in the Scotland Street series, was a real crowd-pleaser, as young Bertie’s wild humour and wonderful wisdom was made all the more encapsulating by McCall Smith’s raucous performance of the passage. Audiences online and in-person were even treated to a performance of traditional Scottish music by award-winning fiddle player Robbie Greig and some unpublished poetry from McCall Smith himself.

With the return of in-person events also comes the return of in-person book signings. The Pavilion in the Clouds was a favourite among the crowd who queued to chat to Alexander McCall Smith. With such strong connections to both Sri Lanka and Scotland, it’s easy to see why this new stand-alone novel is resonating with people. From the idyllic grounds of a pavilion carved out of the upland landscape of Ceylon, McCall Smith chronicles the final days of the British Empire and Scotland’s often unknown involvement in Sri Lankan tea plantations. Paired with with McCall Smith’s trademark imagination, The Pavilion in the Clouds is not one to be missed.

You can catch up on this event, and many more, on the EIBF website. https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/alexander-mccall-smith-human-kindness


  • Hardback | Pub: 05 Aug 2021
    £14.99

    It is 1938 and the final days of the British Empire. In a bungalow high up in the green hills above the plains of Ceylon, under a vast blue sky, live the Ferguson family: Bella, a precocious eight-year-old; her father Henry – owner of Pitlochry, a…

  • Hardback | Pub: 05 Nov 2020
    £17.99

    At the bottom of a sharply descending street – in the topographical sense – in Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town, new residents have moved in to number 44 Scotland Street, joining the already well-known and much-loved denizens of that remarkable…

  • Hardback | Pub: 15 Oct 2020
    £12.99

    What really counts in this life? For the writer, Alexander McCall Smith, it is friendship and love – themes that crop up time and again in his novels. And it is these themes that he explores in this collection of poems. In this book, divided into…

  • Hardback | Pub: 04 Nov 2021
    £17.99

    Life for Bertie seems to be moving at a pace that is rather out of his control. In Drummond Place gardens it seems that Olive has their future together all planned out. Meanwhile, upstairs at 44 Scotland Street, Bertie’s father Stuart is powerless…

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