AS Byatt, Eleanor Catton and Alasdair Gray among the highlights at Aye Write! 2014
- Kirsty Logan
- 24 March 2014
Mark Z Danielewski, Vic Galloway, Val McDermid and Susan Calman are also attending
The List books editor Kirsty Logan picks some of the best authors who'll be appearing at Glasgow's Mitchell Library as part of the annual literary festival.
Danielewski's 2000 debut, House of Leaves, is a cult classic, an experimental novel about a house containing an endless labyrinth in its basement. His third offering, The Fifty Year Sword, is out soon from Scotland's own Cargo Publishing, and promises even greater oddities. Here Danielewski joins Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet, another gorgeous piece of weirdness. The American authors will discuss innovations in storytelling and how to pen a gripping tale using unconventional techniques. It's sure to be bizarre and brilliant.
Sat 12 Apr.
The East Neuk is known for its tourist-friendly fishing villages and Pittenweem oatcakes; but it's also the birthplace of some of Scotland's finest musicians. In his first book, Songs in the Key of Fife, BBC Radio DJ Galloway charts the growth of Fence Records, whose collective includes KT Tunstall, Kid Canaveral, Withered Hand and King Creosote. Another Fence success, James Yorkston, provides live music.
Fri 4 Apr.
At 28, New Zealand author Catton was the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker Prize for her debut The Luminaries: a doorstop novel (it's also the longest ever winner) set in 1860s New Zealand and modelled on astrology. Controversially, the Man Booker committee also decided to open up the prize to non-Commonwealth authors, sparking fears that US authors will elbow out books which might in previous years have been winners. But does the Commonwealth actually mean anything in terms of literature? Catton discusses this with Pakistani novelist and reviewer Kamila Shamsie and South African writer (and Man Booker shortlistee) Damon Galgut.
Wed 9 Apr.
Speaking of literary prizes, Dame Antonia Byatt is the winner of the Man Booker Prize, Commonwealth Writers Prize, and James Tait Black Memorial Award, as well as holding 14 (yes, 14) honorary doctorates and fellowships. She's written for children and adults in a career than spans 1964 to the present day, encompassing novels, short story collections, essays and biographies. There's certainly plenty to discuss in her own career but, ever humble, Dame Byatt will also be sharing the work of writers who continue to inspire her.
Tue 8 Apr.
'I love audiences that engage with me,' says grand dame of crime fiction Val McDermid, 'and there's nowhere better than Glasgow for that experience.' McDermid is no pushover: her Tony Hill series is known for graphic depictions of violence and torture. her Lindsay Gordon novels feature bold and complex lesbian characters (still uncommon in crime fiction, sadly), and she was attacked with ink after refusing to sign a Top of the Pops annual with a picture of Jimmy Savile on the cover. We're impressed. But McDermid has some worries: 'Sharing the stage at Aye Write! with someone as smart and funny as Susan Calman is the icing on the cake. Though if she's too smart or funny, I may have to push her off the stage … '
Sat 12 Apr.
No book festival would be complete without Scotland's favourite polymath. Gray's latest, Of Me and Others, is his first foray into memoir, though he's already covered novels (his debut, Lanark is a Scottish classic), poetry and translation. Here, Gray gets beneath the skin, and this memoir is warm, funny and nostalgic, while never forgetting his strong politics. You’re never entirely sure what to expect from him (as fans will tell you, this is part of his appeal) but it will certainly be interesting, informative and amusing.
Sat 12 Apr.
Aye Write!, Mitchell Library, Glasgow, Fri 4–Sat 12 Apr; ayewrite.com.