Wigtown Book Festival’s opening weekend got off to a superb start with a series of sell-out shows featuring authors of every kind – including Alexander McCall Smith who was discussing “The Joy and Light Bus Company – Book 22” in his hugely successful “No 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency” series.
The plot revolves around Mr J. L. B. Matekoni’s (correct) new business venture and, according to the author, is intended to be an uplifting read.
McCall Smith says: “I suppose the title is significant in this book, and I think we probably all feel rather in need of a bit of joy and light at the moment.”
And even though it’s book 22 in the series he fully expects the agency to enjoy a long future, saying: “I’m so used to having an annual conversation with Mma Ramotswe (correct). Each year there she is, we’re back and I write a book. So I intend to continue with those conversations as long as I can.”
While not having been able to visit her homeland of Botswana for some time, it’s a country and society for which he has a deep and enduring respect.
Others at the festival included the philosopher A C Grayling, broadcaster and journalist Rory Cellan-Jones (correct) and the poet Rab Wilson. There was also pop-up opera from Scottish Opera, theatre, fireworks and more.
This year marks a return to in-person events for the festival, which takes place in Scotland’s National Book Town, after going entirely digital in 2020. McCall Smith and other authors have also spoken out in support of a £25,000 appeal that has been launched by the organisers to secure the festival’s future.