Being Scottish, I feel quite excited every time I read a book by a fellow Scot. There’s a lot of novels out there that are very well known, but I thought that it would be worth dedicating a post to some of the books I own by Scottish authors, to show the great wealth of talent we have in this lovely country.
I also know there’s a lot of people outwith the country who are obsessed with it (looking at you, America.)
I’m not claiming these to be the best Scottish authors, or best Scottish novels, they’re just a collection of a few I have on my shelves. Who knows, maybe I’ll do another one of these posts in the future.
The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy is the Poet Laureate for the United Kingdom, and has been since 2009 – the first woman, Scottish person and openly gay individual to hold the role. Not sure about you but I think that’s really cool.
The World’s Wife was published in 1999, and is a collection of poems about women, and the women behind men of mythology and stories, who step up to tell their own stories, living in the shadow of their husband.
She has a lot of poetry collections, but these are some of the ones I find the most interesting.
Place of birth: Glasgow
The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
Sometimes I worry that I am going to end up like the main character in Janice Galloway’s debut novel.
It follows the breakdown of a 27-year-old drama teacher called Joy, whose everyday life problems accumulate to the point that she can no longer deal with it. She also goes through a traumatic time, but instead of blaming outside influences, she blames it on herself.
If that doesn’t entice you, it gets very good ratings.
Place of birth: Ayrshire
Autumn by Ali Smith
Autumn is a book you might be familiar with after it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year. Ali Smith has written a huge amount of novels, a lot of which are well known, and none of which I’ve actually read yet despite owning a grand total of three of them!
This is my next planned read, so you’ll need to look out for a review on it because I honestly don’t really know how to describe it. However, here is the synopsis:
Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.
Place of birth: Inverness
The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins
The Cone Gatherers is often set as a text in school, although I never read it as such.
Written back in the 50s, it follows two cone gatherers who are tasked with picking up all the pine cones in a forest, which is overseen by a gamekeeper who dislikes them, and feels a sense of injustice.
It looks at class divides, and it is chock a block full of symbolism, while set in the backdrop of war. It’s also very short.
Place of birth: Near Cambusland (outside Glasgow)
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
I probably don’t need to give this one any introduction, because the chances are, you’ve seen the film.
In case you’re one of the few who haven’t (and I HIGHLY recommend that you do give it a go), Trainspotting follows a group of friends as they navigate their lives while taking drugs. Mainly heroin.
It’s based in Edinburgh and follows Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, Begbie and Tommy. They attempt to give up drugs and get sucked under again, showing the dark underbelly of drug use and what it’s like for those trying to get off of them.
It is absolutely fantastic. I will say that it is written in Scots, so if you’re not Scottish it might be a bit more difficult to get through.
Place of birth: Leith, Edinburgh
How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman
Following an ex-con, How Late it Was, How Late is about a man who goes on a two day bender and ends up in jail, totally blind.
To make things worse, his girlfriend has disappeared and he’s being questioned for a crime, all while he’s trying to claim disability for his blindness.
Like Trainspotting, this one is also written in Scots, and follows a bleak situation. It’s also written in a stream of consciousness style, so if you’re not familiar with Glaswegian… good luck!
Place of birth: Glasgow