I have no problem with the Orange Prize – in fact, I quite like it. But as today the world will be full of the Orange Prize longlist, and this blog is talking about a different list entirely, I had to mention the Orange Prize somewhere!
Namecheck accomplished, it’s time to talk about the TESCO BANK SCOTTISH SUMMER READ which was launched at this year’s AyeWrite festival. The idea is to promote the reading of new Scottish books. The shortlist of 20 books was judged by a panel which included representatives from The Scottish Library and Information Council, Publishing Scotland, Edinburgh International Book Festival, The Herald, and Glasgow Libraries. See that? The words Edinburgh and Glasgow appearing in the same sentence! There’s a first. More exciting still, the winner, as decreed by public vote, will be announced at this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival and seeing Lizzy was there at the launch, she’s on a mission to read some, attend a few events during the spring and the summer and be there at the finish.
I reckon it’s going to be very difficult to predict the winner because the list spans all genres, all ages. I know which book was shifting the most copies after the event. See if you can guess.
Given the camera mishaps during previous events, I went along to this event cameraless. What a mistake! It was a real treat. 5 authors on stage, each allocated 10 minutes to present their work, with musical interludes between each presentation. I must mention the interludes. One man, 12 different wind instruments, including a goat’s horn and a Chinese gourd flute, playing a selection of pieces composed by Mozart and Henry VIII among others. Superb.
And so to the list. Readings, talks and presentations delivered by:
– Karen Campbell, an ex-policewoman, reading from her 2nd crime novel
– James Robertson, award-winning Scottish author and founder of Itchy Coo Books (children’s books in Scots) discussing the difficulties of illustrating children’s books and reading Katie’s Year, his latest Scots poem for pre-schoolers … twice!
– Flora MacDonald remembering an idyllic Hebridean childhood.
– Eleanor Thom revealing the real life inspiration behind her award-winning debut novel, The Tin-Kin
– Allan Massie, hypnotising me with his wonderful melodious tones while telling tales of ex-patriates in Italy.
All this in 75 minutes! Are you as annoyed as I was that I didn’t take my camera? No worries, I thought, for the press were out in force and the two cameramen must have taken about three thousand shots between them. Surely I’ll find something online to include in this post. Not a single thing. Where have all the pictures gone? Am I looking in the wrong place? Do let me know if you find anything.
Last thing – which book sold the most post-event? James Robertson’s Scots poem for pre-schoolers. I reckon Eleanor Thom would have run a good race but her book had sold out. Which left me with plenty of time to talk to Alan Massie about his novel teaching German students at the University of Tübingen. The things you learn at a book-signing!