Favourite Scottish books of the last 50 years

image-medium (25)Despite her Harry Potter credentials and having written two bestselling novels for the grown ups, no JK Rowling title has made it on to the “Favourite Scottish books of the last 50 years list.” This is a competition which asks the public to vote for  Scotland‘s top writers

J K lives lives in Edinburgh and is a very well known author to be excluded from the list!

Literary critic Stuart Kelly, who was responsible for putting together the list with Scottish Book Trust, is quoted as saying Rowling doesn’t figure on the list because she just isn’t good enough. “If she was to have been included it probably would have been for the third Harry Potter book, but this list is about adult books,” he also says “there are 50 better books than The Casual Vacancy on that list”.

The list aims to find the “best books for people to choose their favourites from. There are a lot of works which expand the novel, books which fundamentally change what a novel does, like Andrew Crumey ‘s – he features for  Pfitz, Frank Kuppner’sA Very Quiet Street, or Hotel World by Ali Smith. It is not just about content, it’s also about form. Many of these books are doing quite radical things.”

Women writers feature strongly, even though they “haven’t been in the past part of the critical discourse”, Kelly said, citing Candia McWilliam’sA Case of Knives, and The Bad Sister by Emma Tennant, “but they are very much part of the Scottish tradition. They have developed this fascination with dopplegangers.”

He said: “Every Scottish author I know writes within a world tradition but it is the case that they are more likely to have read Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886), The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) by James Hogg, and Witch Wood by John Buchanan (1927), the influence is implicit. There is a distinct way in which they self-situate within a Scottish context.”

Many other famous Scottish books were omitted because they were published more than 50 years ago, although some of the earlier books on the list include Muriel Spark’s Loitering with Intent (1981), Docherty by William McIlvanney (1975), and James Kennaway’s 1963 novel The Mind Benders.

Others in the selection are James Kelman’s Kieron Smith, Boy, Day by AL Kennedy and Alan Warner‘s 1977 novel Morvern Callar.

The list features lots of Scottish crime writers, from Ian Rankin, to Denise Mina, Louise Welsh, Val McDermid and Christopher Brookmyre. The late Iain Banks is the only writer to have two books included, one, Excession, from his science fiction work written as Iain M Banks, and the other The Bridge, published as Iain Banks.

 Voting is open to everyone and continues till  18 November. The top 10 titles will be announced during Book Week Scotland (25 November to 1 December).

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