From Muriel Spark to Jackie Kay, 10 landmark reads by Scots women…

Written by Sally McDonald, 28 January 2018

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie
Muriel Spark

SHE is the working class Edinburgh lass who despite turning her back on university became one of the world’s great writers.

To coin her own phrase Dame Muriel Spark, once a humble secretary, was “the crème de la crème” of the 20th Century literary world; her most celebrated novel The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie becoming an Academy Award-winning movie in 1969 starring Maggie Smith.
This week sees the 100th anniversary of Spark’s birth. And it is being marked with the re-release of all 22 of her novels in collectable hardback editions by Polygon with support from Creative Scotland and the Muriel Spark Society.

Spark’s own extraordinary archive of letters, diaries and even her dresses, along with the manuscript of her most celebrated book, are on show until May at The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.
From tomorrow, some of the country’s leading writers, including Val McDermid, Ali Smith, Janice Galloway, Kate Clanchy and Louise Welsh, will discuss her work on Radio 3 while on Wednesday at the city’s Usher Hall First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and authors Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin will be among the luminaries gathering to read, hear and perform her work.

It’s not hard to imagine the rush of excitement eliciting a wry smile from the woman lauded for her rapier wit and incisive observations. Poet Spark, who died in 2006, fell into novels in her forties after a brush with mental illness and her conversion from Judaism to Catholicism.
Her first book, The Comforters, appeared in 1957 to a glowing review by Evelyn Waugh.
Before long she was being referred to as Britain’s greatest living novelist – a title of which she was dismissive.

“I don’t believe it,” she is reported to have said. “You’d have to read all the novels of everybody to be quite sure of that. I don’t like being thought of as best. But I know I’m among the better ones.” Her centenary looks likely to draw a new generation of readers.

Best-selling crime writer McDermid says of Spark: “She’s a writer who’s not so much
under-appreciated as under-read.

“Readers who discover her are captivated by her unique style and the way she constantly wrong-foots us. Her distinctive take on fiction has influenced writers as diverse as Ali Smith and Ian Rankin. I hope the celebrations of her centenary bring her thousands of new fans.”

Read the full article on the Sunday Post Website…

ARTS NEWS: Play, Pie and a Pint season includes Val McDermid, installation in Shetland, New Music award shortlists revealed…

Val McDermid. Image: Gordon Terris/Sunday Herald

THE spring season for the A Play, a Pie and a Pint plays at Oran Mor in Glasgow has been announced.

It will begin on February 12 with It’s Behind You by Alan McHugh, which will be followed on February 19 by Lorna Martin.

It will be followed on February 26 by Aye, Elvis by Morna Young.

Morna Young is recipient of the Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship 2017 and the New Playwright’s Award 2014.

The play beginning March 5 will be Rishta by Taqi Nazeer.

Rishta is Taqi Nazeer’s playwriting debut as part of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Breakthrough Writers programme.

That will be followed on March 12 by Alan Muir and on March 19 by For the Love of Chekov (The Dating Game) by AS Robertson, McGonagall’s Chronicles by Gary McNair beginning March 26, Rachel’s Cousin by Ann Marie Di Mambro on April 2, Margaret Saves Scotland on April 9 by the crime writer Val McDermid.

Read the full article…

Ruby Wax, Robert Peston and Graham Obree line up for Glasgow book festival…

GLASGOW’S annual book festival, Aye Write!, is to take on the turbulent world of 2018’s current affairs with a series of sessions with prominent journalists, writers and politicians.

Authors and writers at the festival, which runs from March 15 to March 25, will appear alongside Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative cabinet minister, journalists Robert Peston and Evan Davis, the Labour politician Baroness Shami Chakrabarti and leading lawyer Aamer Anwar.

Writers appearing at the festival, which this year takes place in venues across the city including the City Halls, Glasgow University and the Tramway, include Val McDermid, Maggie O’Farrell, Ruby Wax, the Makar or National Poet, Jackie Kay, and Professor AC Grayling.

Read more…

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