Alexander McCall Smith and Maggie O’Farrell in Scottish Book News

JUST OUT: Prolific Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith recently told The Herald that he “loses track” of the number of books he produces, but averages around five a year. He has six novels planned for 2021 and has already passed the half-way point, with number four – The Pavilion in the Clouds – published last Friday. Set in a Sri Lankan tea plantation during the final days of the British Empire and in St Andrews, Scotland, the story centres around the family who own the plantation and their mysterious governess. It’s published by Birlinn, £14.99.

EVENTS: Maggie O’Farrell is among the literary stars appearing next week at Fringe by the Sea, the multi-arts festival festival which continues in North Berwick until August 15. On Tuesday (August 10), Ghillie Basan will be talking about her books, The Scottish Brunch Bible and A Taste of the Highlands. Denise Mina will join Brian Taylor over a lunchtime blether to discuss her forthcoming novel, Rizzio – ‘a radical new take on one of the darkest episodes in Scottish history’, which took place in Mary, Queen of Scots’ Holyrood Palace chambers.

On Wednesday, aspiring authors can learn the tricks of the trade from Emma Salisbury. The creator of gritty Edinburgh-set thrillers and a successful police procedural series featuring DS Kevin Coupland, Salisbury presents A Masterclass in Crime Writing in the Marine North Berwick Hotel.

On Friday, hugely successful author Maggie O’Farrell will be in the Belhaven Big Top discussing her books, including bestselling novel, Hamnet, and memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am. Later in the afternoon, Helen McClory will be talking about her novel, Bitterhall.

Full programme details at

AWARDS: A Series o Scunnersome Events: The Boggin Beginnin has been awarded a Scots Language Publication Grant. The first in a planned series of translations of the popular Lemony Snicket children’s stories, it’s one of 10 new books to receive these grants this year. Author Thomas Clark said he was “fair-trickit” with The Boggin Beginnin’s award, adding: “The opportunity to make this fantastic book available to young people in their ain leid is a real dream come true.”

Other titles to receive the grants include The Itchy Coo Book o Aesop’s Fables by Matthew Fitt and James Robertson, Colin Burnett’s debut novel, A Working Class State of Mind and Kirsty Johnson’s Phantom the Ginger Mog. 

Funded by the Scottish Government and administered by the Scottish Book Trust, the Scots Language Publication Grant is in its third year and “provides assistance for publishing new work (including translated texts), reprinting existing historical or culturally significant work, and also effective marketing and promotion of existing and new work”.

Scottish Book Trust CEO Marc Lambert said he was impressed by the “diversity in genre and subject matter” of this year’s awardees, which range “from children’s stories to poetry; from classic tales we grew up with, to ancient Chinese poetry”.

The full list of books awarded the Scots Language Publication grant is as follows: 
A Series o Scunnersome Events, Book the First: The Boggin Beginnin (Itchy Coo) by Thomas Clark and illustrated by Brett Helquist; A Working Class State of Mind (Leamington Books) by Colin Burnett; Berries Fae Banes (Tippermuir) by Jim Macintosh; Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots (Taproot Press) by Brian Holton; Laird Graham an the Kelpie (Giglets Education) by Jax McGhee; Norlan Lichts (Rymour Books) by Sheena Blackhall, Sheila Templeton and Lesley Benzie; Phantom the Ginger Mog (Wee Stoorie Press) by Kirsty Johnson and illustrated by Mandy Sinclair; The Day It Never Got Dark In Dundee (Rymour Books) by Ian Spring; The Itchy Coo Book o Aesop’s Fables in Scots (Itchy Coo) by Matthew Fitt and James Robertson, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark; Wheesht (Foggie Toddle Books) by Susi Briggs and illustrated by William Gorman.



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