11 brilliant Scottish books
In honour of St Andrew's Day, the patron Saint of Scotland, on the 30th November, we've picked out some of our favourite Scottish books.
Inheritance is about much more than genes...
From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions.
This beautiful new edition will be released on the 19th October, 2017.
'Literary Giant seeks young man to push bathchair.'
Poet Kate Clanchy's first novel follows Struan Robertson as he leaves his hometown of Cuik, Scotland, for Hampstead, where he cares for the aforementioned literary giant, Philip Prys. This is a bright book about dark subjects: a tale about kindness and its limits, told with love. Spiked with witty dialogue, and jostling with gleeful, zesty characters, it is a glorious debut novel from an acclaimed writer of poetry, non-fiction, and short stories.
The Scottish play...
Dark and violent, Macbeth
is also the most theatrically spectacular of Shakespeare's tragedies. Promised a golden future as ruler of Scotland by three sinister witches, Macbeth murders the king to ensure his ambitions are realized. But he soon learns the meaning of terror - killing once, he must kill again and again, and the dead return to haunt him. A story of war and witchcraft, Macbeth also explores the relationship between husband and wife, and the risks they are prepared to take to achieve their desires.
The roots of Shetland
Jen Hadfield lives in Shetland and this, her third collection of poetry, is strongly rooted there. Named for the strong fibres that a mussel uses to anchor itself to the seabed, Byssus is a rich collection which is first and foremost about home, and what it takes to find and forge one. Her language is strongly rooted in the common names she finds in the sea, shore and moor of her adopted Shetland and the book builds to a profound consideration of who and what we are within the landscape.
Costa prize winner
The Overhaul continues Kathleen Jamie’s lyric enquiry into the aspects of the world our rushing lives elide, and even threaten. Whether she is addressing birds or rivers, or the need to accept loss, or sometimes, the desire to escape our own lives, her work is earthy and rigorous, her language at once elemental and tender.
The debut author
From Scottish author, Mary Paulson-Ellis, The Other Mrs Walker
explores Edinburgh throughout the 20th Century, painting a vivid picture of the 1920s and 1930s. Winning the Waterstones Scottish Book of the Month, this detective story with no detective draws the life of Margaret Penny into the world of a mysterious old woman, 'Mrs Walker' who died alone in her flat surrounded by a host of strange and confusing objects ...
Offensive? Or groundbreaking?
Irvine Welsh was born in Edinburgh. He grew up in the tenement homes of Leith, the prefabs in West Pilton and the maisonettes in Muirhouse and left school at sixteen. He moved to London in the seventies but returned home and, inspired by the nineties rave scene and the people he met, he wrote Trainspotting. The book was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 1993 but didn't make the shortlist after it 'offended the sensibilities of two female judges'.
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The struggle between good and evil
Born in 1912, Robin Jenkins was named 'the greatest living fiction-writer in Scotland (The Scotsman) before his death, and was awarded the Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun Award in 2002 for an outstanding contribution to Scottish life.
Inspired by Jenkins' own experience as a conscientious objector in the Second World War, this classic of Scottish literature explores the idea of sacrifice, nature and war.
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The contemporary classic
Dame Muriel Spark was born in 1918 and educated in Edinburgh, before spending a number of years in central Africa. A tour de force of contemporary Scottish literature, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
is a compelling portrait of a woman’s dark quest for immortality.
Miss Jean Brodie is a rare breed of teacher – passionate, independent-minded and romantically inspired, with not the slightest care for convention. She soon garners a devoted following of six young girls, who will become known as ‘the Brodie set’, and begins to shape them in her own image. But Miss Brodie is more than just an individual with an intense desire to control and mould her girls. Beneath the facade of this self-possessed woman lie some sinister truths, and a keen interest in fascism . . .
Robert Louis Stevenson
Real Scottish Crime
Growing up in Edinburgh, Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the most famous Scottish fiction writers. Not only did he spend much of his time in Edinburgh, his story The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
was also based on a real-life Scottish criminal, Deacon Brodie.
Brodie managed to maintain a double life, appearing to be an upstanding Edinburgh citizen, and being appointed to the Town Council, while secretly using his skills as a cabinet maker and locksmith to make impressions of keys and break into the houses of rich and influential people. He formed the inspiration of the dual personality of Jekyll and Hyde!
What is your favourite Scottish book?