We’ve asked Scotland’s leading writers, booksellers, festival directors and critics to pick one, or two, books — published this year or in the past — that they most enjoyed reading in 2017. There will be new selections every day until 21 December — so keep reading for great ideas about what to read next and visit your nearest high street bookshop to purchase your Christmas gifts! Rosemary Goring takes us forward on 6 December.
Rosemary Goring, writer and editor and Board Member for Scottish Review of Books
The best poetry collections, like Douglas Dunn’s The Noise of a Fly (Faber & Faber, £14.99) are books not just for this year, but for many to come. In this too long awaited collection, Dunn demonstrates his masterly range, but there is never a hint of showing off. Whether he is offering an elegy to fellow poet Robert Fergusson, who died far too young, or reflecting on his first wife’s similarly tragic early death, or simply watching wildlife and trees in the garden — ‘a leaf impersonates a pecking bird’ — Dunn writes quietly, conversationally, occasionally confessionally, often wittily, and sometimes with a sharp edge to his tongue, which makes the page crackle. Simply superb.
Brevity is a poet’s trademark, and is not in evidence in Annalena McAfee’s large novel Hame (Harvill Secker, £16.99/£8.99). A vigorous but thoughtful swag-bag of a novel, it tells of a young Scots-Canadian mother and estranged wife, settling on a Hebridean island in order to write the biography of its famously grousing late poet, Grigor McWatt. He, like many of his generation, refuses to remain quiet, and alongside extracts from Mhairi’s diaries and work in progress, his newspaper columns and passages from his history of the island — not to mention glossaries of words and copious footnotes — fill Hame to the brim with Caledonian fizz and fury — and affection.
Rosemary Goring is the author of Dacre’s War.