Nicola Barker with Ali Smith: In The Approaches

August 18, 2014

  Ali Smith delivered a typically extravagant introduction to author Nicola Barker, describing her as ‘Muriel Spark on the back of a runaway horse’. Fittingly the author was dressed in blue jeans and a shirt imprinted with what appeared to be a reproduction of a movie still from an old western....

EIBF 2014: Will Self, Shark

August 15, 2014

  Will Self’s Shark begins prior to the action in his 2012 novel Umbrella. It ‘takes flight’, however, from a scene in the earlier novel when the psychiatrist Zack Busner ‘remarks that he stopped using LSD in psychoanalytic sessions’ after a disturbing vision in front...

EIBF 2014: Jung Chang on Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China.

August 12, 2014

  Jung Chang came striding onto the stage wearing a deep blue silk gown beautifully embroidered with silver thread. The style of the dress was taken from the period in 19th century China when Empress Dowager Cixi (pronounced ‘she-she’) ruled. But the subject of Chang’s new biography was sidelined...

David Torrance, Britain Rebooted: Scotland in a Federal UK

July 15, 2014

(Luath Press, 2014)  Britain Rebooted: Scotland in a Federal UK is a departure for the journalist and commentator David Torrance. Usually found on screen or in print analysing political developments in a relatively detached fashion, this short book finds him advocating reforms that he believes...

Made in Edinburgh – Poems and Evocations of Holyrood Park by Tessa Ransford

May 1, 2014

Made in Edinburgh – Poems and Evocations of Holyrood Park Luath Press, £9.99 THE INTIMACY OF PLACE There is currently a new attention being paid to Place. Often it comes with that important capital P. These Places tend not to be places we know through quotidian experience, but Places whose layers...

Linda Colley – Acts of Union and Disunion

January 20, 2014

Linda Colley, one of our most eminent historians, has produced a short book that places the current referendum debate in the context of changes that have affected the UK’s internal and external relationships and altered the way it perceives itself. ‘Acts of Union and Disunion’ has three...

Judi Benson ‘Hole in the Wall’

December 21, 2013

Judi Benson’s collection of poetry is a heartrending contemplation of the effects of death on those who are left behind. Her poems deal with grief, shock, anger, bewilderment and learning to cope without the person who has died. They deal with the transience and impermanence of life. They...

Tony Black ‘Last Orders’

December 13, 2013

If an Edinburgh tourist organisation ever considers approaching a Mafia hit man to eliminate an author, Tony Black has to be high on the list. In Last Orders he does not present an Edinburgh that is typical of the shortbread tin tartan tattery shops on the Royal Mile (a particular target of his ire)...

Lesley McDowell, Unfashioned Creatures

December 4, 2013

  ‘The knowledge that matters is the knowledge of what you can do to someone, and how to effect it,’ says Isabella Baxter Booth in Unfashioned Creatures. This is not to paint an unappetising picture of the protagonist of Lesley McDowell’s second novel. That should be reserved for the antagonist...

Linda Cracknell, Call of the Undertow

December 1, 2013

Delicate hints of the supernatural tease the reader in Linda Cracknell’s debut novel Call of the Undertow. However, her beautifully realised depiction of the friendship between a traumatised woman and an other-worldly boy is strongly grounded in the real world, in the physical land and seascape they...

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