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...

Patricia Debney, ‘Littoral’

December 1, 2013

Each part of this collection is bracketed by an enlarged list of definitions of words like ‘breaker’, ‘capillary wave’, ‘erosion’, and of course ‘littoral’. By providing these precise definitions of a vocabulary that she will draw on and analyse in her poems, Patricia Debney suggests...

Peter Kerr: Human Rights in a Big Yellow Taxi

November 26, 2013

  The country is awash with stories of what our government does under the guise of national security. Peter Kerr opens this political rant with a story of how anti-terrorist police questioned a twelve-year-old boy for protesting outside David Cameron’s constituency office. This is Kerr’s springboard...

Joaquin Perez Navarro: One Man’s War in Spain: Trickery, Treachery and Thievery (ChristieBooks, 2013)

October 17, 2013

Joaquín Pérez Navarro, trans. Paul Sharkey   For this Spanish anarchist, ‘Anarchy is the Highest Expression of Order’. Spanish anarchy,and its relevance to the Spanish Civil War, is discussed fervently in this first English translation of a book published in...

University of Edinburgh’s School of Law – A Public Lecture by John Calder

October 13, 2013

We live in a time when the internet has made pornography freely available and computer games and movies thrive on a spectacle of violence and sex. It is interesting to note that in post-WWII Britain ‘no four letter word could be printed’ and ‘acts legal to perform could not be described’ in...

National Poetry Day: Kapka Kassabova and C.K. Stead

October 7, 2013

The theme for this year’s National Poetry Day was water. An audience of thirty in Edinburgh’s Scottish Poetry Library were given a thorough soaking in the verse of C.K. Stead and Kapka Kassabova. Both writers have connections with New Zealand. Kassabova was born in Bulgaria, studied in New Zealand,...

Muriel Spark: A Glance through An Open Door

October 3, 2013

In July 1992, Muriel Sarah Camberg Spark, daughter of Edinburgh, returned to the city of her birth for the formal presentation of some of her papers to the National Library of Scotland at George IV Bridge.  Anyone granted access to the papers will be astonished at the bulk, range, and variety of the...

Blog / Discussion

Jane Haining’s Letter from Auschwitz

by Alison Metcalfe, National Library of Scotland

Rusticated… (VI)

by Brian Morton

Spring Fever

by Rosemary Goring


by Alan Taylor

Coming and Going

by Alasdair McKillop