It’s the time for ‘Books Of The Year’ lists and we like to think that Scots Whay Hae!’s selection for 2016, while small, is beautifully formed and well worthy of your attention.
These are the books which stood out against a lot of stiff and perhaps better known competition. The list could have been longer but we like to stick to a traditional Top Ten. Consisting mostly of novels, with one remarkable collection of short stories, and one unforgettable musical (auto)biography, these are the books which have left their mark. Here’s what we thought at the time:
Young Soul Rebels – Stuart Cosgrove
Stuart Cosgrove writes as he broadcasts – eloquently, forcefully and at pace, and as such he makes persuasive and forceful arguments. If you have a music fan in your life, then I would suggest this book is the perfect gift. If they are a soul fan, then it is a must. Anyone who has ever pored over liner notes, obsessed over b-sides, searched out limited editions and rarities, or cued hours for tickets or entry will recognise themselves at least in part on the page, no matter what their musical tastes. Stuart Cosgrove is here to remind you that while music may not be a matter of life and death (and there are poignant reminders of that in Young Soul Rebels) it certainly makes the former worth living. Continue reading
Writing about real life in fiction is fraught with danger, but when the background to your book is a notorious disaster then an author not only has to be sure of themselves and how they are going to approach it, they must do so with conviction. Research and point of view is vital if you are not to be accused of disrespect or worse, and even then you have to be prepared for unfounded opprobrium such as James Robertson had with the reaction from some to his writing the 2013 novel The Professor of Truth. Not to the book itself, but simply the writing of it.
Iain Maloney risks similar strong reaction to his latest novel The Waves Burn Bright which has 1988’s Piper Alpha North Sea oil platform disaster as its major event. Maloney is obviously well aware of the duty of care he has to all involved and this shows in his writing which is never sensationalist, and which clearly has the backing of rigorous research. This approach stands him in good stead as Maloney takes on more than one controversial and emotive subject. Continue reading
*You can listen to P.K. Lynch talking about Armadillos on the Scots Whay Hae! Podcast by clicking here…
In our recent podcast with novelist Iain Maloney we spoke about a writer’s responsibility when tackling certain subjects. In Maloney’s case, his novel The Waves Burn Bright deals with events surrounding the Piper Alpha North Sea Oil Platform tragedy, and he talked about the importance of making sure his research was thorough and his prose unsensational so as to avoid any possible accusations of exploitation or disrespect.
It’s something that James Robertson and Kirstin Innes have also spoken to us about with reference to their novels The Professor Of Truth and Fishnet, books which examine the Lockerbie bombing and the sex industry respectively. Writers have a responsibility to their subject as well as their readers, and with some subjects that responsibility should be taken very seriously indeed. It’s a difficult balancing act to pull off, to tell an engaging story while respecting those who you are wishing to draw attention to, but when a writer gets it right it can be far more affecting than any mere reportage or documentary.
Armadillos is the story of 15-year-old Texan Aggie, who is described as “a ‘sub’ from a ‘sub’ family”, which means she is at the bottom of a food chain where food is scarce to begin with. Literary theorist Antonio Gramsci used the term ‘subaltern’ to refer to those who belonged to groups of people denied power and wealth by the ruling classes. They are those who struggle to have their voices heard, so often cease trying. If you are considered a ‘sub’ within such a group, then in common parlance you are viewed within, and often without, that group as the ‘lowest of the low’. Continue reading
In our latest podcast Ali talks to Japan based Scottish novelist Iain Maloney – in the pub. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, what followed was a fascinating and illuminating chat which will be of interest to those who write, have an urge to write, or simply share a love of books.
Iain was just about to start a whirlwind tour of the UK to promote his third novel, The Waves Burn Bright, but thankfully took time out to talk to Scots Whay Hae! about that book, his previous work and influences, his life as a novelist, and what living abroad has taught him about home.
Maloney’s First Time Solo is one of the best debut novels of recent years (and you can read Ali’s Indelible Ink review here). His second, Silma Hill, wrong footed readers, and the writer himself, and in our conversation Maloney sets out why.
Before that he discusses why place is important to The Waves Burn Bright, the difficulties in dealing with real-life tragedy in fiction, and how his characters evolve. Scots Whay Hae! has been a fan of Maloney’s work for some time and it was a real pleasure to finally get to meet the man and talk books with someone who is passionate about what he does (at least another hour’s worth of chat went unrecorded). We hope you enjoy listening as much as we did recording it.
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Next time, on the Scots Whay Hae! Podcast – prepare to be dazzled…