Okay. Maybe I’m not exactly the star of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It is, after all, a 17 day literary extravaganza that brings more than 800 authors to Scotland, including novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, sportsmen, illustrators, comics creators, historians, musicians, biographers, environmentalists, economists, Nobel and Booker prize-winners, and others. But I’ll be there and so will my former MFA student Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.
My event, “The 20th Century in Novel Form,” takes place at 5pm on Sunday, Aug. 21 at the Writers’ Retreat and is described in the program like so:
From the space race to the legacy of Germany’s ‘father of chemical weapons’, the 20th century continues to throw up unforgettable human stories. Benjamin Johncock’s pin-sharp debut The Last Pilot tells the devastatingly personal story of a life-changing opportunity to go to the moon. A Reunion of Ghosts is Judith Claire Mitchell’s tender and surprisingly funny story of a family living in the shadow of a German chemist’s suicide. Chaired by Daniel Hahn.
And a week later, on Saturday, August 27, also at 5pm in the Writers’ Retreat, Rowan (reading with Atticus Lish) will present her debut novel Harmless Like You, which–lucky me–I got to read from first fledgling draft to completed and deeply moving manuscript. Here’s what the festival folk have to say about this event, which they call “New York Gone Sour”:
Beneath the shiny facade of modern New York, two stories reveal harsh realities. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan presents Harmless Like You, in which a 1960s Japanese immigrant has abandoned her 2 year old son. In the present day, that grown-up son goes in search of his mother. Meanwhile, in Atticus Lish’s blistering novel Preparation for the Next Life, a Chinese illegal immigrant befriends an ex-soldier and they struggle to survive homelessness.
Tickets go on sale on June 21.