When in Scotland, read Scottish. But where to start if you know nothing about contemporary Scottish literature beyond the global megastars, Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith?
A few years ago I decided it was time to get better acquainted with the contemporary scene and I wanted to start with the best. So I began to explore the Saltire Book Awards: The Scottish Book of the Year and the Scottish First Book of the Year. They are not genre specific so if a work of fiction wins this award, it must be good – and as far as awards go, I don’t hear much about them on other blogs. In 5 out of 6 Saltire Book of the Year winners I’ve read to date, I’d agree with that statement: Lanark by Alasdair Gray, Clara by Janice Galloway, Joseph Knight by James Robertson, In Another Light by Andrew Greig and Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. A L Kennedy’s Day left me dazed and confused, but given that Kennedy has since filled her trophy cabinet with accolades for this one book alone, I have to concede that I’m the one at fault. Regardless I’m working my way through the backcatalogues and keeping up to date with the new releases of all 6 authors.
I realise that I haven’t read a single Scottish First Book of the Year winner. I must rectify that.
Given my growing penchant for non-fiction, I may try some of the non-fiction winners.