It's unusual at a book launch for there to be so many people featured in a book, actually present. But John Herdman arrived well supported by many of the people whom he describes in Another Country.
This diehard crew consisted of friends from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, many of whom participated in the decade long session of Edinburgh gatherings know as 'The Heretics', whose monthly meetings are now the stuff of legend.
Joseph Glackin, author of debut novel 'A Lone Star Weeps'
It’s a funny old place the Old Town of Edinburgh. Thursday last, 14 November, in the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland on one side of the Royal Mile, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was delivering the last of his six Gifford lectures: highly searching and intellectual investigations into the nature of human language and its relation to the sacred and the divine. On the other side of the Royal Mile at Riddles Court first time author Joseph Glackin was introducing a murder mystery at his first ever book launch. The Gifford lectures are arranged this year by the University of Edinburgh, an institution that has a national and international reach and reputation, but also a considerable physical presence in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Joseph Glackin’s book launch was arranged by the Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust as part of the first series of events under the banner of its Word Bank project. Both free events, the Gifford lectures were delivered to a large audience of theologians, philosophers, academics and general public and will no doubt be broadcast on-line and probably published. Joseph’s book launch took place in front of a small audience of predominantly local residents, amongst whom no doubt were the odd academic and philosopher as well. With great honesty Joseph described the process of how a book comes out of a person for the first time. A development worker in Africa for nearly 20 years, he was often told that he must have some interesting stories to tell about his work; he started to write these down as an autobiography, but soon found that this was boring to both him and to his imagined readers. Finding writing stories a pleasant break from writing strategies and reports, he picked up his pen again and had soon found Gloria, an Inspector in the Liberian police, who gradually became the pivot of the story, to such an extent that Joseph has now finished two books and sketched four more, all led by Inspector Gloria.
The opening event of The Word Bank Autumn Season was held on Monday 18th November. Thirty people came along to the launch of Morelle Smith's Tirana Papers: An Albanian Journal at Main Point Books in the West Port.
Morelle read two very interesting extracts giving her impressions of Albania at a time when the old order had collapsed and reconstruction was only just beginning. There followed a very lively conversation about Albania then and now.
This included the assertion that Ismael Kadare was far from Albania's best writer - we will need another night in Main Point Books to nail that one.
Support has been pouring in for the Trust's proposal to create a community owned social enterprise in the Canongate Venture on New Street, called The Word Bank.
Ali Bowden, Director of Edinburgh UNESCO CIty of LIterature said -
“It’s a big, bold project that could do a lot to support the creative industries, as well as reading and writing communities in Edinburgh. I’m looking forward to learning more about the project and seeing it develop."
Adam Wilkinson, Director, Edinburgh World Heritage said -
“Edinburgh World Heritage is very encouraged to learn of these financially sustainable proposals for a building at risk, bringing it back into use as a place of cultural employment while supporting the city’s publishing industry, with all its extraordinary and illustrious history. Not only would such an initiative contribute to the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and City of Literature, but it would act to support the overall sustainability of the Old Town.”
Owen O’Neill, Writer/Actor/Comedian said -
“From my point of view as a writer/performer it would be a Godsend to have something like this in Edinburgh, especially in terms of the Edinburgh festival. Rehearsal space and performance rooms for instance, or just somewhere for writers to go and meet, brainstorm ideas etc.”
Angus Hardie, Director, Scottish Community Alliance said -
"A fantastic plan - community led regeneration is so much more effective than the traditional top down, public/private sector led approaches (that have consistently failed to deliver), because it harnesses the creativity, passion and civic pride of those who have the greatest stake in their community's future. The Word Bank proposal is a perfect illustration of this and deserves to be supported all the way"