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When American writers meet haggis

July 6, 2011 |  7:06 am


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

More than two dozen American writers will be traveling to Scotland later this summer to participate in the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Will they be brave enough to try haggis, the traditional Scottish sausage that's made from sheep's heart, liver and lungs?

Bestselling novelist T.C. Boyle will be traveling to Scotland for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Jennifer Egan, who won the Pulitzer Prize for "A Visit from the Goon Squad," will also attend. Sapphire, the author of "Push," which was adapted into the Oscar-winning film "Precious," will introduce her follow-up, "The Kid."

Nonfiction writer Ben Mezrich will talk about his latest, "Sex on the Moon"; he's the bestselling author "The Accidental Billionaires," which became "The Social Network," another Oscar-winner.

Audrey Niffenegger, author of "The Time Traveler's Wife," has curated festival events on the theme "writing across boundaries," which include appearances by Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link and Chris Adrian.

Postmodern novelist Robert Coover, who teaches at Brown, will be holding a master class about writing.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival begins Aug. 13 and continues through Aug. 29 and is the literary component of Edinburgh's suite of arts festivals. Launched in 1983, the festival is held in the city's Charlotte Square Gardens; about 220,000 readers attend. In addition to the discussions and readings, there is a full slate of programming around children's books and a set of evening events that include music and, for the first time, the rowdy Literary Death Match.

Notable Scottish writers who will participate in the festival include Ian Rankin, A.L. Kennedy and Alexander McCall Smith. Also participating are Nobel Prizewinner Gao Xingjian, who left China for France in 1997, and Irish-born writer Colm Tóibín.

Entry to the gardens where the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place is free, but some events are ticketed. A few, such as Alexander McCall Smith's reading, have already sold out.

Will the American authors make time to try haggis? It's been banned in the U.S. for decades. Although Scotland has hoped in recent years that America might allow haggis imports, for now, the best place to try haggis is Scotland.

[For the record, 10:20 a.m., July 7: An earlier version of this post said two writers, Yiyun Li and Miguel Syjuco, would participate in the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Although they are among the writers featured on the festival's website, they are not scheduled to participate this year.]

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: A festively decorated haggis sausage. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times