Our nation’s literary pedigree remains in rude health
2014 has been a bumper year for Scottish books across the board. Kicking it off in autobiography, actor Alan Cumming’s Not My Father’s Son (Canongate) is moving, funny and a candid story of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father.
Writer and artist Alasdair Gray reached the heady heights of 80 years old this year, and celebrated with Of Me and Others (Cargo), a frank, playful and political look back at his life and art.
The short story collection has had a cracking year spearheaded by a hot debut from Anneliese Mackintosh. Any Other Mouth (Freight) takes on everything from grief, alcoholism and mental health to gang rape, while AL Kennedy’s fifth short story collection, All the Rage (Jonathan Cape), opened up our eyes to the psychological battering that comes with love. Kirsty Logan’s debut The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales (Salt) came as a shock to the system with its clockwork hearts, paper men and salacious queens.
Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things (Canongate) – weighty, wordy and particularly poignant – is a masterclass in precision, exploring what it is to be human.
Shorter in length but just as substantial, thrice-Booker-nominated Ali Smith gave us How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton), a look at the versatility of art through the dual narrative of a troubled teenager and an Italian fresco painter.
The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins (Jonathan Cape) is, as would be expected from Irvine Welsh, a gritty tale of the friendship between a Miami Beach personal-fitness trainer and an overweight and depressed woman.
Emily Mackie’s In Search of Solace (Sceptre), is a philosophical, funny and parochial tale of Jacob Little’s search for his ex-girlfriend in a small Scottish town. And Graeme Macrae Burnet creates true noir in the mysterious, funny and intelligent The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau (Contraband).