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The best new book releases and literary events – Oct / Nov 2014

22 Oct 2014

Including the Edinburgh International Radical Book Fair, James Ellroy and Yotam Ottolenghi

Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair Guardian columnist and author of Chavs, Owen Jones heads up the exciting lineup at this alternative book festival. Expect plenty of post-referendum discussion. Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Edinburgh, Wed…

Jesse Fink – The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC

21 Oct 20144 stars

'One of the few genuinely good books about a hard rock band'

From 1974 to 1980, AC/DC were sly, funny and feral. But when frontman and self-described author of 'toilet poetry' Bon Scott died, and was replaced by the diligent but charisma-impaired Brian Johnson, the band began the slow process of rigidification…

Highlights of the Dundee Literary Festival 2014

20 Oct 2014

Confirmed authors include Jodi Picoult, Jung Chang, James Naughtie, Kevin Barry and Will Simpson

‘An annual celebration of books in Scotland's sunniest city,’ is how programme manager Peggy Hughes describes Dundee Literary Festival. Now into its eighth year, it was originally established by Anna Day and Professor Kirsty Gunn as a June-set event in…

Chuck Palahniuk – Beautiful You

20 Oct 20142 stars

Satire following the commodification of female pleasure lacks humour and heart of earlier novels

The transgressive fiction author of Fight Club brings us the story of Penny Harrigan, a frumpy law intern seduced by C Linus Maxwell. He’s straight out of the Fifty Shades mould, and Penny is wined, dined and pleasured as the guinea pig to test-run…

Tim Minchin – Storm

13 Oct 20142 stars

Comic book based beat-poem drips with pointlessness and proves inconsequential

Is there anything Tim Minchin refuses to have a stab at? Already an award-winning musical comedian (he took the Best Newcomer prize at the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe), acclaimed composer of musicals (for West End powerhouse Matilda), and hairy actor (taking…

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Dawood Ali McCallum – The Final Charge

13 Oct 20143 stars

Engaging fourth novel from human rights expert set in 1950s Kenya

In his fourth novel, human rights expert Dawood Ali McCallum has turned his attention to Kenya, where British doctor Tom Miles is arrested for a war crime alleged to have been committed in 1954 during Kenya’s battle for independence. Centred around…

Opinion: Green Carnation Prize 2014

10 Oct 2014

Our LGBT editor discusses this year's longlist including Kirsty Logan and Kerry Hudson

The 2014 Green Carnation Prize features a bumper crop of titles. This award for LGBT writers has previously resulted in writers such as Catherine Hall and Andrew Solomon scooping the top prize, and this year the longlist is full of Scottish talent.

Interview: Michel Faber discusses his new book The Book of Strange New Things

9 Oct 2014

Author explains the deeply personal circumstances surrounding the writing of his last novel

When Michel Faber began writing his latest novel, The Book of Strange New Things, he knew it would be his last. What he didn’t know is that it would end up being not just a farewell to his career as a novelist, but also to his other half, Eva Youren (in…

Top 5 new book releases this autumn

9 Oct 2014

Including David Nicholls, Ian McEwan, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and Lena Dunham

David Nicholls – Us (Hodder & Stoughton) Flushed by the success of the intensely loveable *3One Day*2 and creditably not put off by the poorness of the film version which followed, David Nicholls here swaps youthful romance for lived-in, mature love…

Kevin Bridges – We Need to Talk About . . . Kevin Bridges

9 Oct 20143 stars

Autobiographical self-awareness and emotional honesty from Glaswegian stand-up

While it's virtually taken for granted that an arena comic will pen an autobiography sooner rather than later, Kevin Bridges appreciates that he's ridiculously young to be reminiscing about his life. Now 27, more than a third of this book passes with…

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Book Week Scotland 2014 programme to include hundreds of free author events

8 Oct 2014

Other highlights include artwork displays in libraries and free books for all ages between Nov 24–30

Free books for adults and kids alike, artworks in libraries, and hundreds of free author events across the nation are just some of the highlights of the third Book Week Scotland. It takes place from 24 to 30 November, and its programme has just been…

Marilynne Robinson – Lila

8 Oct 20144 stars

Third novel set in Gilead is moving exploration of existence, love and inevitability of loneliness

Lila is the third of Marilynne Robinson’s novels to be set in the fictional Iowa town of Gilead and tells the story of the ageing Reverend John Ames and his much younger wife. Readers first met this pair in Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel…

Simon Armitage and Bill Manhire headline StAnza poetry festival in 2015

1 Oct 2014

Sinéad Morrissey, Ian Duhig and Alice Notley also set to perform at annual event in St Andrews

StAnza, Scotland’s poetry festival, has revealed that Simon Armitage and New Zealand’s Poet Laureate Bill Manhire will be among its headliners for 2015. The annual event takes place in venues across St Andrews but has its hub at the Byre Theatre…

Tina Sutton – The Making of Markova

26 Sep 20144 stars

Meticulously researched and dynamically written homage to Britain's first ballet star

When journalist Tina Sutton was handed the boxed-up archives of prima ballerina Alicia Markova by Boston University, she could scarcely have guessed the treasure trove that lay inside. Decades of letters, diaries, press clippings and theatre programmes…

Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven

26 Sep 20144 stars

Expert storytelling sets this provocative tale of societal apocalypse apart

When the Georgia Flu hits, the age of electricity comes to an abrupt end. 99% of the world’s population die, taking with them the knowledge mankind used to create everything from aeroplanes to running water. For the few that survive the collapse, life…

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Bloody Scotland crime writing festival enjoys most successful year yet

22 Sep 2014

'Tartan noir' highlights include Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Tony Parsons and Ian Rankin

Bloody Scotland started in 2012 with the intention of showcasing the best of Scottish and international crime writing. This has been the festival’s most successful year yet, with packed out author events and less traditional happenings, such as a…

Head to the Highlands this Autumn!

19 Sep 2014

Homecoming Scotland 2014 has already enjoyed many brilliant moments over the past few months… but there are plenty more to come! Be part of it and check out the jam-packed Highland Homecoming programme; a two-month celebration of the very best of…

Opinion: The Man Booker Prize 2014 shortlist

19 Sep 2014

Award sends the literary world into a frenzy – but is this year’s shortlist worth the hype?

It’s a landmark year in Booker history – the first year that US authors can enter, resulting in either a truly international competition or the end of Western civilisation, depending on who you believe. Actually, the new ruling means all…

Yes or No? 15 shows to help you make your decision for the Scottish independence referendum

12 Sep 2014

Need help deciding? Let the worlds of art, theatre, comedy, books and music lend a hand

Glasgow Early Days: The Arches Referendum Festival A week of special theatre commissions including work by Rob Drummond, Gary McNair & Davey Anderson and Robert Ormerod, with the Arches Political Party the night before and the What Now? Brunch the…

A bookworm's guide to Edinburgh and Glasgow

11 Sep 2014

A handy guide for lovers of reading, writing, libraries, literary festivals, comics and spoken word

What better way to browse new books or start writing your own than over a coffee or cake? Lovely bookshops that also happen to feature delicious snacks and drinks include Edinburgh's Looking Glass Books just off the Meadows and Waterstones on Princes…

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Interview: Esther Freud, daughter of Lucien Freud, on her latest novel Mr Mac and Me

11 Sep 2014

The author's latest work takes inspiration from Charles Rennie Mackintosh

‘I don’t think I can have a cogent thought without it coming out through my fingers,’ jokes Esther Freud, wrapping said fingers around a cup of herbal tea. The author is in a tent at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, explaining her borderline…

Flash Fiction: Aide Memoire by Mairi Campbell-Jack

11 Sep 2014

The newest instalment in our series of ultra-short stories

It was the third day this Emma – ‘Call me Em,’ – had visited. A whiff of smoke lingered after her in the vast antiseptic cleanliness of the ward, the rudely penetrating smell of bleach only just covering the stench of ill health. Emma always made the…

Kate Mosse - The Taxidermist’s Daughter

11 Sep 20144 stars

Subtle and seductive tale of murder and mystery from the Labyrinth author

The sodden marshes and thunderous skies of the small village of Fishbourne near Chichester – and Kate Mosse’s home – provide a suitably gloomy setting for the Labyrinth author’s new Gothic tale of murder and mystery. Mosse pulls that landscape in…

Wigtown Book Festival: 'half the fun is serendipity'

11 Sep 2014

Festival Director Adrian Turpin talks Lowland literature, film adaptations and £1 pot luck ticketing

Wigtown Book Festival, the ten-day celebration of books in Scotland’s National Book Town, kicks off its 16th edition this year on 26 September. One of the key 2014 themes is Lowlands, taking Wigtown’s Borders location as inspiration: ‘Scotland's so…

Kate Saunders - Five Children On The Western Front

11 Sep 20142 stars

A disappointing sequel to E Nesbitt's wonderful, immersive and humorous Five Children and It series

Five Children and It is the first of a much loved trilogy from writer E Nesbit about five children and the Psammead (sand fairy) who grants wishes. It has since been adapted for TV and film and has inspired various takes on the story including books by…