Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Theresa Breslin takes the Great Silk Road to Elsewhere

The latest addition to our Elsewhere new writing project, On the shoulder of others, is a mysterious story set against the backdrop of the Great Silk Road written by award-winning author Theresa Breslin. Here Theresa describes the trip she took to Uzbekistan, which inspired her Elsewhere story…

It was a big dream of mine to travel along the Great Silk Road. I’d thought about it ever since reading the adventures of Marco Polo when I was about twelve years old, and hearing my father recite Coleridge’s magnificent poem that begins:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Last September, injected with medically prescribed health-protecting substances, fortified by various vitamins, weighed down with a skip load of anti-diarrhoea tablets and carrying a packet of Jacob’s cream crackers (proven on my various research trips in the past to be the best sustenance for a gippy tummy) plus a large sun hat, off I went to cross the desert and travel through Uzbekistan.  

Land of the Khans, of the mighty Timur, the warrior known as Tamerlane, who crushed the Golden Horde; meeting place of ancient nations and empires, with a fabulously rich history, Uzbekistan is a truly unforgettable country. From the spice market in Samarkand to the desert fortress of Khiva via the caravanserai and trading domes of Bukhara, it was crammed with breathtaking architecture, bubbling with stories and legends and home to the most hospitable and friendly people. An intoxicating experience resulting in my story “On the Shoulders of Others” I hope to write many more.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

It’s Book Festival Launch Day!

Today we launched our exciting new programme at a special event in Edinburgh Central Library.

Over two hundred journalists, publishers, authors and other special guests gathered in the beautiful Reference Library to hear our Festival Director Nick Barley, and Janet Smyth our Children & Education Programme Director reveal the tantalising details of this year’s line up.

Highlights to look forward to include:

  • A host of international writing talent such as exiled Chinese Nobel Laureate, Gao Xingjian and American literary giant Robert Coover.

  • Home-grown talent in the form of A L Kennedy, Alexander McCall Smith and Louise Welsh.

  • A celebration of new writing with the Newton First Book Award, where the public get to select the winner.

  • A world-first all-star read through of Alasdair Gray’s Fleck, featuring a stellar cast of authors including Ali Smith, Will Self and Alasdair himself.

  • A strand of events for children specially curated by the new Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson.

  • Non-fiction treats from Evan Davis, Sarah Brown and Jonathan Agnew.

  • A hand-picked selection of the very best illustrators including Axel Scheffler, Shaun Tan, Emily Gravett, and this year’s Illustrator in Residence, Nick Sharratt.

  • The return of our free, late-night literary shenanegins  - Unbound in the Spiegeltent.

You can download our brochure and browse events on our website. We hope you’ll love it as much as we do!

The reference library provided a fitting backdrop for the launch

Children and Education Programme Director Janet Smyth introduces the RBS Children’s Programme


Book Festival Director Nick Barley reveals the inspiration behind this year’s programme


Our beautiful brochure, hot off the press