Harper Lee famously wrote that 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.' Presenting diverse realms of experience spanning politics, prejudice, pregnancy, poverty and more, this Issue showcases an array of strong and vibrant voices.

In this bold award-winning memoir, Edinburgh-based author and journalist Chitra Ramaswamy delves into the exciting – yet also at times confusing and overwhelming – experience of pregnancy. In a series of intimate essays she charts the many changes to her body and mind while challenging the wider perception, and portrayal, of pregnancy in society. In this frank introductory extract, Chitra confronts pregnancy’s ‘riddle’.

Expecting: The Inner Life of Pregnancy By Chitra Ramaswamy Published by Saraband Books


An unremarkable Sunday morning in November. A noirish time of year when nature’s reel turns monochrome and the world becomes as smudged and grainy as old newsprint. Sombre November, as TS Eliot called it. The last gasps of another year. On the morning dog walk the leaves were pockmarked from an excess of autumn and had lost their florid complexion. They were beginning to blacken now and stick to my shoes as though slick with a thin layer of oil. It was the eleventh month of the year, though Novem means nine for it was the ninth month in the Roman calendar. Nine months. A clue dropped by a season, like so many leaves.

And so with all this promise of death I found myself taking a test proposing life. A frightening test, though perhaps there is no other kind. A test taken by oneself in the privacy of one’s own bathroom towards the end of another year. A test whose result is revealed not by a mark on a page but by a stream of one’s own bog-standard urine. A test for which there are only two results. Either life is there, burrowing in a place as close to you as your own heartbeat...


In this month’s column David Robinson reviews Scotland-based author Jason Donald’s arresting new novel in which the eponymous Dalila leaves Kenya, and a personal history of brutal violence, to arrive in London. Yet Dalila soon discovers that London provides no escape from the many dangers she hoped she had left behind. Robinson praises Donald’s convincing treatment of this timely topic and argues that more novels must follow Dalila’s direction to further what he calls ‘fiction’s ‘real life footprint” to ensure that such important, yet oft-neglected, contemporary experiences are told in today’s publishing landscape.

Ten years ago, when The Scotsman ran Britain’s biggest short story competition, each year I used to pick what its theme should be. For the first one, I wanted to select a subject that was hardly ever covered in fiction, one that would guarantee an influx of freshly written and entirely origi...



The Blind Man of Hoy click

The Blind Man of Hoy

‘If I could no longer trust my own abilities how could I expect anyone else to want to climb with me?’


Cathy MacPhail Asks ‘Where Were the Working Class Heroes?’ click

Cathy MacPhail Asks ‘Where Were the Working Class Heroes?’

‘Every child deserves to see themselves, the people they are, reflected in a story’


Tendai Huchu on The Hairdresser of Harare click

Tendai Huchu on The Hairdresser of Harare

‘Being at a distance as an author also gives you perspective’


Radhika Swarup Q&A click

Radhika Swarup Q&A

‘My family on my father’s side were affected by the Partition. They had to make a new life in Delhi’


A’ Toirt Mo Chasan Leam click

A’ Toirt Mo Chasan Leam

Travel to urban Russia in the first ever Gaelic travelogue


Mongol: Journeying from Prejudice to Belonging click

Mongol: Journeying from Prejudice to Belonging

‘I was an only child growing up in Uliastai, in the western reaches of Outer Mongolia’


404 Ink: Publishing Nasty Women click

404 Ink: Publishing Nasty Women

‘2017 is the year to push back against post-truths and champion real experience’


From India to Edinburgh with Bashabi Fraser click

From India to Edinburgh with Bashabi Fraser

‘As I journey back and forth / From your spiritual hearth / To the bracing north’