Word Up!: Scots Whay Hae’s Best Books Of 2015…

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You may have had your fill already of ‘Books Of The Year’ lists already, but we like to think that Scots Whay Hae’s selection is small, beautifully formed and well worthy of your attention.

These are the books which stood out against a lot of stiff competition in 2015. It could have been longer but we decided to stick to the traditional Top Ten. Consisting mostly of novels ,with a couple of music biographies thrown in, these books will take you to North Korea, Detroit, the Firth of Forth, the 17th century and Millport. Taken as a whole they are a testament to the breadth of artistic and cultural imagination at large in Scotland today. Need further convincing? Here’s what we thought at the time:

512+dd1NznL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_A Book Of Death And Fish – Ian Stephen

There is a geographically thorough representation of Scotland as well as a historic and cultural one as we are taken from Shetland to the Solway Firth, West Coast to East Coast, and all around the coast as well. The land and the sea; the one constantly affecting the other, and this relationship comes to define Peter MacAulay’s life… This is an epic novel in more ways than one, but then this is the story of a man from cradle to grave and as such it deserves due consideration. Some people may be put off by the scale, but the writing is concise, accessible and memorable. Give it your time and you will not regret it for one moment. You may well think back on your own life in a different manner as a result.

916FbzrWB6LRise – Karen Campbell

Campbell is a writer who always manages to wrong foot you, seemingly for fun, and the results are never less than thrilling. She builds tension, often unbearably, as lies are threatened to be uncovered, and, even worse, so is the truth. All of her characters are fully developed and all-too believable, and this makes you take closer notice than you may have done otherwise as the various dilemmas unfold. You can not be a passive reader of a Karen Campbell novel. She refuses to let you. Rise is steeped in Scottish culture, but makes no big deal about it, just as it should be. Primarily it is a novel which is thought-provoking and involving, and never less than thoroughly entertaining. Spread the word; Karen Campbell has quietly become one of Scotland’s very best writers, and deserves to be considered as such. Consider it done.

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Move On Up: A Review Of Karen Campbell’s Rise…

Anyone who has the slightest interest in Scottish literature will have had that question posed to them at some point, “What is Scottish literature anyway?” (for some reason, there’s always an “anyway”).  The argument goes, and has done for some time, that it is simply another branch of English literature and should be treated as such. I have all my answers to this down pat, so much so that I bore myself with them, and no doubt many of you regular readers, so I won’t repeat them here. However, a very neat solution has arrived. From now on I can simply hand them a copy of Karen Campbell’s latest novel, Rise, and say, “Read this”.

Following on from 2013’s memorable This Is Where I Am, this time round Campbell embraces the history and legacy of Scottish writing, influenced by the ancient and the contemporary, a very Scottish literary trope in itself. There are themes here which will be familiar to those who have even the most basic knowledge of Scotland’s literature. The supernatural versus the psychological, the urban versus the rural, the enduring pull of the land, the present day and the past, family secrets, the cuckoo in the nest, fatally flawed central characters, betrayal, duelling polarities, even some standing stones; all of these are brought together with a deceptively light touch.

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