That Was The Year That Was: It’s The Best Of 2018 Podcasts – Part 1 (Books)…

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For our Review of the year in Scottish writing and all things bookish Ali was once again joined by Booky Vikki herself, Publishing Scotland’s Vikki Reilly, to discuss their favourite books of the year and the state of Scottish writing and publishing. While doing so they try to identify the themes and trends of the last 12 months, look into what’s coming in the new year, forget the names of things (mostly Ali, to be fair), talk music, “Mayhem”, and explain why 2018 belonged to Muriel. It was quite the year and hopefully we go some way to summing it up and rounding it off for you.

The podcast is the perfect companion piece to our earlier post ‘The Good Word: Scots Whay Hae!’s 10 Best Books Of 2018 (+1)…’ (see right), where you’ll be able to link to reviews of many of the books and writers that Vikki and Ali discuss. There’s a lot of love for writers and publishers alike, and although we didn’t manage to cover it all, we hope you’ll find something to pique your interest. Continue reading

The Good Word: Scots Whay Hae!’s 10 Best Books Of 2018 (+1)…

DSC_0809 2.jpgI know you’re bombarded with ‘Books Of The Year’ lists around this time, but we like to think that Scots Whay Hae!’s selection is one for the more discerning book lover. It’s a good old-fashioned Top-Ten, but, as with Nigel Tufnel’s amp, this one goes to 11. Which is one better…

These are the publications which stood out against the stiffest competition in 2018, consisting of four new novels, three short fiction collections, the conclusion of a soul music and civil rights trilogy, a book of spell poetry, a history of Scottish pop, plus our bonus entry – a re-issue of a modern Scottish classic.

They will transport you to Harlem, Lewis, Bangour, and post-war America, with detours to Orkney, the Scottish Borders, Edinburgh, Paris, Moscow past and present, and through the looking-glass, along the way. Taken as a whole they are a testament to the artistic diversity and cultural imagination at large in Scotland today and proof that Scottish writing is in fine fettle indeed. Need further convincing? Here’s what we thought at the time:

Olga Wotjas – Miss Blaine’s Prefect And The Golden Samovar

37795464Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar is a crime novel for those people who think they don’t like crime novels. It is also a novel of manners, a comedy, a romance, (although not necessarily a romantic-comedy), and a work of science fiction. With so many influences at work, and genres juggled, it really shouldn’t work but it never falls down and Olga Wojtas should be praised for pulling such a feat off. I’m pretty sure I won’t read anything like it this year, unless it is ‘Miss Blaine’s Prefect’s’ next mission impossible, and I’m hoping that we won’t have to wait too long for that.

Miss Blaine’s Prefect And The Golden Samovar is published on the Contraband imprint of Saraband Books Continue reading

The Write Stuff: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 (+1) Picks Of The Edinburgh International Book Festival…

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From the 11th – 27th August in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square Gardens (and George Street) once again becomes the place for book lovers to meet, greet, and be merry as the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes up its annual residence. It’s always an oasis of calm and conversation in a city gone daft, and it is one of SWH!’s favourite places to be.

There’s a lot of great events to choose from, so to help you find something just for you here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten Picks of what to see at this year’s book festival (with a bonus extra because you’re special).

67dac432Robin Robertson, Sat 11 Aug 12:00 – 13:00 – The Spiegeltent
A renowned poet whose work often hauntingly evokes the lives of Scottish outsiders, Robin Robertson strikes out with a breathtaking new project, The Long Take. In this verse novel, Walker is a war veteran from Nova Scotia who sets out for Los Angeles in 1948. Robertson’s book demonstrates the origins of ‘noir’, presented here with period filmic and musical accompaniment.

And you can read the SWH! review of The Long Take here. Continue reading

Talking Books: A Preview Of The Dundee Literary Festival…

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One of those questions you are asked to ponder every now and then is, “Who would you invite to your perfect dinner party”. Well, it looks like those organising this year’s Dundee Literary Festival have gone one better and put together a dream festival line-up. Running from today (19th) to Sunday 23rd, it shows off contemporary Scottish literature at its best, but offers much more, including celebrations of some lesser known writers including Shakespeare, H.G. Wells, and Shirley Jackson.

I can’t think of a better conversation I’d like to be part of than one between Liz Lochhead, James Kelman, Don Paterson, Jenni Fagan, and Alan Cumming, but that’s essentially what the Dundee Literary Festival 2016 is offering. However, that’s just the headliners. Like all the best festivals much of the interesting stuff is lower down the bill. The following is a short preview which only scratches the surface of what’s on offer, so, for the full programme, download the brochure here. Continue reading

Literary Lunches: Glasgow University’s Creative Conversations Series…

GlasgowUniLogo1“I don’t like Mondays”, Bob Geldof once understandably proclaimed, but now the University of Glasgow present a series of literary events to change your view of the first day of the week forever. These have already seen Jackie Kay and Janice Galloway appear to read and talk about their life as writers, but Spring’s guests have just been announced. You want details? That’s what we’re here for…

 Creative Conversations  is a new series of Monday lunchtime literary events featuring readings and conversations from internationally renowned writers.

The audience is encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch, and books by featured authors will be for sale in the chapel after the event, courtesy of John Smiths bookshop.

Creative Conversations is organised by the Creative Writing programme and sponsored by the Ferguson Bequest

Free (seats subject to availability)

Continue reading

Out & About: A Review Of Out There: An Anthology of Scottish LGBT Writing…


There is a common, if idealistic, perception of Scotland as a liberal and tolerant society, leaning nonchalantly to the left (with exceptions, such as those who like to take a morning stroll in celebration of ancient religious rivalry, and golf clubs); a place where a man’s a man for a’ that, but such a generalisation can lead to complacency and may hide troubling specifics. It is worth reflecting that homosexual acts between consenting male adults were criminal until 1980, when the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act was passed, 13 years after such legislation was passed in Wales and England. Consider how Scotland, and the rest of the world, changed in other ways between 1967 and 1980 and that disparity is as shameful as it is shocking. As Jeff Meek asks in his Afterword to Out There, the recent anthology of Scottish LGBT writing, “Why was Scotland different?”.

It’s a question which Christopher Whyte, whose story ‘Unfamiliar Rooms’ also features in Out There, posed in the introduction to his 1985 book Gendering The Nation: Studies In Modern Scottish Literature. He explores the theory that the growing importance of questions of nationalism in this period overshadowed other issues of equality. For a while it was if Scotland could only deal with one thing at a time. Certainly it has been posited before that Scottish Literature was spending so much energy justifying its existence in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s that it was a rare voice which commented that what was being offered as a Scottish canon, and, in turn, the criticism of it, was hardly diverse in terms of analysis, gender or voice. If you believe that a country’s literature is a reflection of its society, culture and people, then the connections are clear. Continue reading