Books, Fiction

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Tim Clare – The Honours

26 Mar 20154 stars

Performance poet’s debut is one of the most exciting fantasy novels of recent years

In his debut novel, poet Tim Clare has succeeded in creating a world that is at once fantastical and absorbingly real. Initially, the story seems to follow a familiar spy thriller trajectory: 13-year-old heroine Delphine is displaced when her family…

Jane Alexander – The Last Treasure Hunt

17 Mar 20153 stars

This debut novel is a pleasant look at a Scottish barman’s journey to celebrity status

Scottish author Jane Alexander's debut novel follows Cam, a blokey Gen-X barman who, after reconnecting with childhood friend-turned-Hollywood star Eve, finds himself at the centre of celebrity. Early on, The Last Treasure Hunt is more Hello! than…

Terry Pratchett: five ways the writer made the world a better place

13 Mar 2015

A look back at some of the late author's many accomplishments

As the world mourns the news that fantasy fiction author Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66, we take a look at some of the ways the writer helped to make the world a brighter place. He gave us some beloved fantasy fiction Over his writing…

The books that made me: Karen Campbell, author of This Is Where I Am

11 Mar 2015

Ahead of the release of new novel Rise, the writer discusses the books that have influenced her life

After four novels centering on the life and investigations of Sgt. Anna Cameron, Karen Campbell broke away from the crime mould for her fifth novel, This Is Where I Am, which highlighted the plight of asylum seekers in Glasgow. The profound tale of Abdi…

Most inspiring female characters in literature

5 Mar 2015

Celebrating International Women’s Day by recognising fiction's pioneers, radicals and role models

This week we're celebrating International Women’s Day by recognising inspiring female role models across the arts world. Here we look at women in literature – who stands out and why they deserve recognition as we approach IWD 2015... Katniss…

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New Dr Seuss book What Pet Should I Get? discovered

19 Feb 2015

Random House will publish the new title by the Green Eggs and Ham author in July

Random House Children's Books has announced that it is to publish a newly-discovered Dr Seuss book in July. The manuscript for What Pet Should I Get? was discovered by Seuss' wife Audrey Geisel as she was remodelling her home and tells the story of a…

Mercy Seat – Wayne Price

17 Feb 20154 stars

This gripping debut novel is a bleak meditation on family with tension on every page

This debut novel from one of the most exhilarating short story writers to recently emerge is a bleak and gripping meditation on family, love and lust in a Welsh coastal town. A desire to forget his childhood leads Luke to relocate to work on a farm…

Blast Radius – RL McKinney

16 Feb 20152 stars

Pedestrian tale of a soldier returning from combat fails to stand out from the crowd

The subject of war looms large in literature. Many great novels have explored the difficulties faced by a soldier returning from combat, the issue addressed by RL McKinney in her debut novel. Though the recognisable premise is sensitively handled, this…

The Books That Made Me: SJ Watson, author of Second Life and Before I Go To Sleep

13 Feb 2015

The former NHS audiologist talks about the books that have influenced his life

SJ Watson burst onto the literary scene in 2011 with Before I Go To Sleep, a dark and disturbing thriller about a woman whose memory is erased whenever she falls asleep. It became a sensation, selling four million copies in over 40 languages and being…

The Chimes – Anna Smaill

9 Feb 20154 stars

Distinctive debut novel by poet and musician Smaill is full of rhythm, energy and melody

The Chimes is set in a world controlled by a vast instrument that renders people unable to form new memories. Believing in a time before The Chimes is ‘blasphony’, but there are still a few who hold the power to remember. Enter Simon, who has been…

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Dead Girl Walking – Chris Brookmyre

3 Feb 20154 stars

Jack Parlabane is back in this fast-paced offering from the Tartan Noir author

Fans of two of the Tartan Noir genre’s most successful authors will be pleased to know that Ian Rankin’s Rebus isn’t the only semi-retired character who has been brought back into full use of late. Although Chris Brookmyre has used a broader collection…

Etta and Otto and Russell and James – Emma Hooper

3 Feb 20153 stars

An endearing, if overly-familiar, debut novel featuring some loveable characters

Parts of Emma Hooper’s debut read like Wes Anderson adapting a Cormac McCarthy novel. She captures the dusty, empty fields of Saskatchewan with the similar staccato rhythm of the All the Pretty Horses author, while imbuing this sweet story – in which 82…

Kazuo Ishiguro coming to Scotland

20 Jan 2015

Award-winning author of Never Let Me Go set to make rare Edinburgh appearance

Kazuo Ishiguro will be making a rare appearance in Scotland to discuss his highly anticipated brand new novel The Buried Giant at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh on Thu 5 Mar.

Q&A: Peter May, author of Runaway and The Lewis Trilogy

19 Jan 2015

The writer tells us all about the real-life inspiration behind his new novel

Peter May is an award-winning crime author, and a former writer for classic soap opera Take the High Road. His latest standalone novel, Runaway, swivels between 1965 – when Jack and his band leave Glasgow to make it big in London – and 2015, when they…

The Possibilities – Kaui Hart Hemmings

12 Jan 20153 stars

The author of The Descendants returns with a second novel about grief

Bereavement is a recurrent theme in Kaui Hart Hemmings' work. Her debut novel The Descendants profiles a family as they deal with the loss of a mother and wife, while this latest offering explores the life of Sarah St. John after her son Cully is killed.

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Flash Fiction: Venus in Tatters by Lucy Ribchester

5 Jan 2015

A new short story from the author of The Hourglass Factory

He was halfway through a cigarette when the news came through: there had been a slashing. ‘Burns,’ the editor said, his hand on the doorjamb. ‘This is serious.’ He gave details. Her flesh was cut in six long strips, there were bruises, a hatchet used…

Ben Lerner – 10:04

23 Dec 20145 stars

‘Like a poem, is neither fiction nor nonfiction, but a flickering between them’

For an avant-garde poet, Ben Lerner’s first novel Leaving the Atocha Station was a surprise commercial success. Self-referential, mordantly funny, it followed a young American poet on a fellowship in Spain, and was animated less by conventional plot…

2015 Highlights: Books

17 Dec 2014

Featuring: Iain Banks, Kirsty Logan, Curtis Sittenfeld, John Green and, hopefully, George RR Martin

Iain Banks’ death in 2013 has left a tangible absence in the world of Scottish books, and this new volume of poetry – including many previously unpublished poems – will be welcomed by fans of his work. They have been collected by his friend Ken MacLeod…

Philip Teir – The Winter War

12 Dec 20143 stars

Despondent portrait of a divorce, with excellent comic moments

Translated from the original Swedish by Tiina Nunnally, this family drama opens with an acknowledgement of divorce before jumping back to explore the causes. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of four Helsinki family members: fiftysomething…

Rally & Broad

5 Dec 2014

A busy end to a brilliant year for the spoken word event run out of Edinburgh

’We knew we wanted poetry and spoken word, but … even more so,’ says poet and spoken word performer Jenny Lindsay of her and Rachel McCrum’s fast-growing literary platform Rally & Broad, before going on to outline its manifesto-come-shopping list of…

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Porochista Khakpour – The Last Illusion

4 Dec 20143 stars

Take two potentially life-changin­­g events (Y2K and 9/11), throw in an old Persian myth and a delusional illusionist, then add an undertone of behavioural psychology and there, in a nutshell, is The Last Illusion...

Philip Kerr – January Window

10 Nov 20142 stars

Murkiest aspects of Premier League football explored in narrative testing bounds of believeability

Edinburgh born-and-raised crime author Philip Kerr has certainly cottoned on to a worthy and unexplored setting for the genre, amidst the backdrop of English Premier League football. A self-confessed Arsenal fan, he’s taken the murkiest aspects of the…

William Gibson – The Peripheral

7 Nov 20143 stars

'New novel, as impressive, ambitious and layered as it is, might leave you feeling a little lukewarm

Given how swiftly the world and its technological tools keep changing, it might seem foolhardy to attempt any kind of speculative fiction. But if anyone is going to make a decent fist of this with a crystal ball, it was always going to be the author of…

Favel Parrett – When The Night Comes

6 Nov 20144 stars

Beautifully poignant split narrative following a family's tie to the sea

The split narrative of Favel Parrett's second novel follows the stories of Bo, a chef on board the polar vessel Nella Dan, and Isla, the daughter of the woman with whom he stays in Hobart when the ship docks. Through this simple relationship she…

Flash Fiction: The Trace by Rebecca Monks

23 Oct 2014

A short story from the Edinburgh-based writer

Her pencil snapped under the pressure. The clean lines she had carefully mapped across the page were now coated in the dust which spilled across the portrait, blurring her likeness. She cursed, startling her carer. 'Come on Lizzy, there's no need for…