Granite Noir – Aberdeen’s crime writing festival – is pleased to announce Scotland’s First Minster as chair for one of the festival’s opening events.

A voracious reader since childhood, Nicola Sturgeon will chair an event with author Abir Mukherjee, the child of immigrants from India, who was bought up in the West of Scotland, on Friday, February 22 at 7pm at the Music Hall. Their event will explore the shared heritage of Scotland and Bengal and is just one of the festival’s diverse programme celebrating, showcasing and debating the cream of crime fiction from around the world.

Produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts, in partnership with the Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives and Aberdeen City Libraries, Granite Noir is now entering its third year and, with several events already a sell-out, this year’s festival is set to be the biggest and best yet.

Ms Sturgeon is well-known for her love of literature and is an advocate for reading. She established the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in 2016, to encourage children to pick up a book and expand their imagination, and her Saturday night Twitter feed is filled with recommendations from her weekly reading. She has described books as “amongst my very favourite things in life”, with crime fiction a favourite genre. Her appearance at Granite Noir follows on from recent appearances at Wigtown Book Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2018.

Ms Sturgeon recommended the acclaimed author Abir Mukherjee as one of the new wave of Scottish crime fiction authors. Abir commented that he started writing “to explore the shared history between Britain and India which…has made such a great impact on the country we live in and the values we share.”

Head of artistic development at Aberdeen Performing Arts Lesley Anne Rose said: “Nicola Sturgeon is known for her passion for books as both an escape and as a window into other people’s lives. As a huge fan of crime fiction and the issues and debates these novels often confront, she promises to bring a fascinating discussion to the festival and we are delighted to welcome her to the line up.”

The First Minister will join headliners including Scottish comedian, author and presenter, Susan Calman in conversation with local crime wiring hero Stuart MacBride who will be sharing secrets of his life and work as well as discussing his latest Logan Macrae novel. As well as Sophie Hannah the author who has revived the career of Hercule Poirot.

Panel chairs include acclaimed author and broadcaster, James Naughtie. James is one of Britain’s best-known broadcasters. Born and educated in Aberdeenshire, he began his journalism career on the Press and Journal and wrote for the Scotsman and Guardian before moving into broadcasting. He’s a former presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4, and host of the network’s monthly Bookclub. He is the author of acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including the spy thrillers Paris Spring and The Madness of July.

Joining James on chairing duties will be award-winning broadcaster Edi Stark, as well as Kezia Dugdale, Fiona Stalker, Alex Clark and Craig Sisterson.

Events will take place in city centre venues including The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen’s Central Library, The Belmont Filmhouse, The Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and 1906 Restaurant and include In Conversation sessions; Granite Noir Workshops; film screenings; Young Criminals (family events); other Fringe events and Late Night Noir. Locals in the Limelight runs alongside the festival, offering aspiring local writers to share the stage with top crime fiction authors.

Chief executive Jane Spiers said: “Granite Noir returns for a third year with more events, more writers, more conversation and more venues. It’s quirky, inventive, it’s a festival designed for readers and writers alike and it takes us to far flung places. What makes it unique is the sheer range of events and the fantastic backdrop of the city.”

This year the festival will be supported by Granite North gin and Mackie’s who have created a very special Granite Noir ice cream.

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