Taking the Air


  • Edinburgh International Book Festival

Project summary

The Edinburgh International Book Festival in conjunction with Durham University and the British Lung Foundation will examine breath and breathlessness in the context of fiction, poetry and music and demonstrate how this relates to society’s current attitudes towards people who have breathlessness.

Our project, Taking the Air, will comprise a programme of events as part of our 2017 and 2018 festivals with authors such as Janice Galloway, Imtiaz Dharker and James Kelman, that will aim to destigmatise and explore how our understanding of conditions causing breathlessness has evolved through fiction. It will also involve a research project exploring how writers seek inspiration by taking a breath, a community engagement project centring around an arts residency in Glenrothes in Fife and free breath-related activities in a specially designed ‘drop-in’ space as part of the 2017 festival.

Lung disease is the third most common cause of death in Scotland. Given the hundreds of thousands of Scottish people affected by poor lung health, particularly in areas with high levels of socio-economic deprivation, we will aim to raise awareness of breathlessness among a wide public audience, exploring more fully its links to a range of both physiological and mental health conditions.