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Shetland Arts’ annual book festival is now well under way, following the events that took place last weekend. There is plenty more to come this weekend with a fantastic line up of events for all the family, featuring Scottish Opera, Sally Magnusson, Christine De Luca and a not to be missed personal appearance by a haggis called Horace.

Broadcaster and writer, Sally Magnusson will need little introduction to viewers of Reporting Scotland and Songs of Praise, or listeners to Radio 4. On Saturday evening, she will appear in the Mareel Auditorium to talk about her book, Life of Pee, and answer questions from the audience.

Scottish Opera are also staging three performances of A Little Bit of Northern Light, which they have been touring around a variety of venues in communities throughout Scotland. The show, for bairns aged 4-8 (and their parents/carers) lasts for half an hour, and features a story-teller, two instrumentalists and a singer. It tells the story of the re-commissioning of a lighthouse on an island.

Tickets are still available for Horace the Haggis (for ages 5-9), which as well as an appearance by the eponymous haggis, will feature his creators author Sally Magnusson and illustrator Norman Stone who will take you into the amazing world of Horace the Haggis and friends, with readings, on-the-spot drawings and even some animation.

Horace the Haggis

Other events include appearances by literary luminaries such as John Burnside and Robin Robertson, both of whom are winners of the Forward Prize for poetry. Like Robin Robertson, John Burnside is renowned as a fine reader of his work, and he holds the distinction of having won both the Forward Prize and the TS Eliot prize for the same volume of poetry, Black Cat Bone, which he will be featuring in his reading on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday will see readings by Rodge Glass, author of Bring Me The Head of Ryan Giggs, and Neil Butler who has recently published The Roost, a collection of short stories which has been described as Shetland’s answer to Trainspotting, and has received excellent reviews. This will be a feast for lovers of contemporary fiction and a rare chance to meet two very fine writers.

The festival will end with a reading chaired by Mary Blance, presenter of BBC Radio Shetland’s Book Programme, which will feature Karin Altenberg and Christine De Luca. Christine De Luca was born and raised in Shetland and is perhaps better known for her poetry, though in this session she will feature her novel, And Then Forever… which she launched at Wordplay 2011. Karin Altenberg was born in Sweden and now lives in the UK. Her first novel, Island of Wings, set in St Kilda was nominated for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the 2011 Saltire Award (First Book) and shortlisted for the 2012 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards (First Novel).

Speaking about the festival, Literature Development Officer Donald Anderson said, “We are delighted with the way Wordplay has been going so far this year. Mareel is proving to be an excellent venue and already there has been feast of lively readings, discussion and debate and this seems set to continue over the coming weekend. We are proud to be featuring the quality and variety of writers who will be appearing and look forward to welcoming people of all ages to the events.”

Tickets for all events are available from Shetland Box Office, Mareel or Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555, or online at

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