BOOK FESTIVAL – A Celebration of Iain Banks

The Edinburgh book sculptor's tribute to Iain Banks

The Edinburgh book sculptor's tribute to Iain Banks

Tonight, everyone in the packed main tent of the Edinburgh International Book Festival felt like a friend of the late Iain Banks — whether they’d met him or not.

This was thanks to a moving, poignant but above all hugely enjoyable event, where Brian Taylor chaired Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Ken MacLeod — there not so much as fellow writers, but as some of Iain’s closest friends.

Memories and anecdotes were shared, all of which had one common thread: the fierce and devilish humour for which Banks was renowned. Even Neil Gaiman, leaving a long line of eager fans clutching books at his signing queue, popped in to recount a tale of Iain traversing the front of Brighton’s Metropole Hotel at a decidedly inopportune moment.

Valerie Redmond, who starred in the TV adaptation of The Crow Road, gave readings from The Bridge and The Quarry. The second of these, a rant from one of the novel’s terminally ill characters, was immensely poignant, but also hilarious, causing — as Festival director Nick Barley had hoped when the event was announced earlier this year — the audience to raise the roof.

With Taylor encouraging people to share their own comments and memories from the start, the event had a wonderfully inclusive feel, allowing everyone there the chance to pay their respects to a true giant of Scottish literature, who — as the inscription on the book sculpture so rightly points out — went the Crow Road far too soon.

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