Well, it’s T minus 8 days. We’re in the final throes of preparing to launch the opening salvos of the most ambitious worldwide discussion about writing, ever. So no pressure then.

Travel arrangements are in hand, receptions arranged, technical aspects sorted – a million and one other bits and pieces to take care of but all is on-track, which is a good feeling.

We’re justifiably proud of the calibre of keynote speakers who are currently gearing up to present their take on the five Conference themes. In this year of all years, who more fitting than the much celebrated and always compelling Ahdaf Soueif to discuss Should Literature Be Political?, a writer whose work has traced the leylines of the personal and political and who witnessed the events of Cairo’s Arab Spring firsthand … more riches follow with the fabulous Ali Smith on Style vs Content, the unique Irvine Welsh on A National Literature?, the brilliant Patrick Ness on Censorship Today and of course the incomparable China Miéville on The Future of the Novel. Let’s not forget about the Chairs, major league players one and all: Elif Shafak, Nathan Englander, Ian Rankin, Chika Unigwe and Janne Teller. Phew! Plus there’s a remaining 40 Scots and international participants who will all be having their say in the debate.

What makes the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference unique is not just the fact that it’s an extraordinary gathering of talent; it’s that through this partnership between Edinburgh International Book Festival and the British Council, we can aim to make this truly a worldwide discussion. We want this to become the most democratically accessible, widest roaming and culturally significant event it can possibly be.

For that, we need you. You can buy tickets to come to the Edinburgh festival events or, if you’re based further afield, to any of the 14 Conference events taking place from Berlin to Kuala Lumpur to Australia and many points in between. Furthermore, you can watch and participate online through watching the livestream and viewing videos on this site, joining in on Twitter and Facebook. We will capture as much salient and trenchant discussion as we can and make it available here. Plus all and any of you can have your say too.

The Edinburgh Chairs mentioned above certainly have a formidable task ahead of them, but they’re all at the starting blocks; preparing, thinking, dissecting, talking and reading.

To continue with the Olympics vernacular – because you just can’t avoid it right now – this is, we think, an unprecedented gathering, an unprecedented moment. (If you think differently, then tell us!)

Be there, or here. Either way, make your voice heard, tune in, join in, speak up. If you think literature matters, then let’s start hearing why.

Tanya Andrews
British Council

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