Scottish Fiction

Book reviews of fiction by Scottish authors


The Fresh Connection…. Spring by Ali Smith

The third novel in Ali Smith’s ‘Four Seasons’ quartet paints a UK every bit as fractured and fucked up as it was for both ‘Autumn’ and ‘Winter’ – but there’s nothing fucked up about the novel itself that brilliantly captures the chaos and chasms of post-Brexit Britain…..


The Language of Waves......

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan
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Ryan's Daughter......

Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson
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“The square-toed shoe was invented in Glasgow so that Glasgow’s men could get even closer to the bar!’


On Scottish whisky and pubs...

“It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in the world, the history is fascinating, the men are handsome, and the whisky is delicious…..but don’t eat the macaroni pies!’

JK Rowling

On Scotland's scenery, history, men, drink and...em...pies!

“There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter!’


On Scottish weather...

No Sign Of Mel Gibson Though……!

Ten Books That Represent Scotland – or at least they do to me!



Alisdair Gray


If there is such a thing as the great Scottish contemporary novel, then I think this might well be it. It tells the story of Lanark and Duncan Thaw, moving between Glasgow of the 40’s and 50’s and the hell-like other-world of Unthank. At the time I read it, in the early 1980’s, with Scotland in the vice-like grip of Thatcher, the novel was just stunning to read.


Black and Blue

Ian Rankin


Ian Rankin’s creation, Detective John Rebus is so much a wonderful depiction of the Scottish psyche for me. He’s a kind of William Wallace for today in my eyes, albeit without the kilt, the saltire war paint and perhaps carrying a bit more weight than Wallace did!!


Espedair Street

Iain Banks


I can’t envisage my country in books without an Iain Banks novel. I picked Espedair Street for three reasons – firstly Daniel Weir the main character is the most fantastic of anti-heroes, secondly it’s a brilliant tale of sex, drugs, rock and roll so what’s not to love about that and thirdly I used to live near Espedair Street in Paisley!!


The Cutting Room

Louise Welsh


There are lots of shades to Glasgow – this novel includes the slightly more upmarket part of Glasgow – what my mother might call the “all fur coat and no knickers” part of the city! It tells the wonderfully black tale of Rilke who’s an “auctioneer” – which sounds dreadfully “Home Counties and BBC” – but in Glasgow it’s just a posh word for someone who clears crap from other people’s houses!


Swing Hammer Swing

Jeff Torrington


This is another tour of Glasgow in some ways. This one is of the cities working class in the 60’s, the bars they frequent and their love lives. Thomas Clay is a failed novelist/artist/philosopher – but then everybody in Glasgow is a failed novelist/artist/philosopher – even the ones who are a success at something are usually tormented by the novel that got away!


Not Not While The Giro

James Kelman


There has always been a debate about whether or not Kelman’s books are literature at all let alone be good literature! When he won the Booker Prize, his book was controversial for using the word “Fuck” 4000 times and one of the judges described it as “crap really!” But there is no debate for me – these stories are part of my growing up and I adored them!


Para Handy Tales

Neil Munro


We are not all gritty kitchen sink social realism! Para Handy captains the ‘on-its-last-legs’ boat “The Vital Spark” with his crew of Dougie the first mate (a man who puts the super into superstitious”!), Dan McPhail the engineer and Sunny Jim the deck hand (Sunny in name only!) The Vital Spark plies its trade (barely, but hilariously) on the River Clyde, and the West Coast of Scotland.


A Scots Quair

Lewis Grassic Gibbon


The trilogy A Scots Quair takes me to ten…. as across three books, Sunset Song, Cloud Howe and Grey Granite, they tell the story of Chris Guthrie, a young woman in the North East of Scotland, moving from the hard, rural life of her adolescence to adulthood and marriage. For me Chris Guthrie was the Scottish ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles!’