Enjoy the Show!
In Edinburgh, August is a time where the city becomes a stage, and we invite the whole world to be our audience. Though this year's festivals have been cancelled, with some events migrating online, BooksfromScotland is still here to delight you with book recommendations that encompass the best things about our international festivals. We have drama, music, storytelling and spectacle on offer this month, so take your seats - it's time for curtain up!
Shuggie Bain By Douglas Stuart Published by Picador
Congratulations on Shuggie Bain’s publication ! This novel has been a long time coming; could you tell us about how the novel came together?
I began writing Shuggie Bain about twelve years ago, and worked on it for about ten years. When you grow up poor, it’s difficult to imagine yourself pursuing a literary life. I went to high school in Pollok and academia and writing were not seen as something that ‘boys like me did.’ I always felt like I’d furloughed my writing dreams, so in my thirties I sat down to write Shuggie for the pure pleasure in writing it. I love Scotland – I’m so proud to be from Glasgow – so I loved spending time with these characters. I even grew quite protective of my relationship with them.
And another mighty congratulations are in order too – Shuggie Bain has been announced as a contender on the Booker Prize longlist. You must be delighted at the reception your book is getting. Is your publishing experience surpassing all expectations?
It’s truly wonderful. I’m an outsider in the publishing world, so I wrote what became Shuggie Bain with absolutely no expectations, it was enough just to write. It was too intimidating to even imagine it published, I might have psyched myself out. So I just kept my head down and wrote the book I’d been carrying around in my heart for so long. It is amazing to me that it has been able to connect with readers in the way it has.
Extracts from A Musical Offering By Luis Sagasti Published by Charco Press
No one knows why an eighteenth-century Count, with no problems other than those that come with his position – palace intrigues, a damsel’s jealousy, the tedium of protocol – is unable to make peace with his conscience and get to sleep at night, as is God’s will and his own fervent desire. Like all of us, Count Keyserling believes that lying awake in the dark when everyone else has left for the land of Nod is a form of punishment. A punishment that equalises: insomnia makes no disti...
David Robinson Reviews: Summer
‘Yes, it will be a story of our times, but it will draw on, and take hope from other times, and above all other fictions, too.’
Cassius X: A Legend in the Making
‘Cassius X is more than a biography it is an exploration of a life against the most dramatic social landscape.’
‘When the rut returns, Mother Nature’s easel will be in place with purple and crimson flashes of paint to splash her canvas.’
The Book According to…Doug Johnstone
‘It’s dark, existential stuff, but funny too, hopefully. It starts with a car crashing into an open grave, and features a one-eyed dog called Einstein and a cat called Schrodinger. Obviously.’
‘Imagine how much gold they took to name a Coast after it.’
Small Hours: The Long Night of John Martyn
‘”You could put it into a hymn book,” Richard Thompson told me of Martyn’s best known song, which comprises of a series of very secular prayers.’
‘All generations have left behind traces or representations of the world they encountered and the stories they told to make sense of it.’
Edwin Morgan: Centenary Selected
‘Familiarity has bred only increased admiration and love for one of the most incredibly various and fascinating bodies of work I know in modern literature.’
Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers
‘Each family has its Scots words or phrases, helping to maintain or establish bonds of kinship.’
All or Nothing at All: The Life of Billy Bland
‘The more you do, the better you get. – Billy Bland
‘Imagine you put aside the pulse of fear at your throat and lean in, mirroring the stone’s tilt.’