‘LOTE’, by Shola von Reinhold

It’s hard to know where to start with LOTE, Shola von Reinhold’s debut novel. It’s an ambitious, sophisticated and masterful work which succeeds in spite of the many pitfalls that could prevent this. In many ways it is also a novel which, on first glance, is for those who possess an appreciation for the literary […]

‘The Second Cut’, by Louise Welsh 

Louise Welsh’s sequel to The Cutting Room (2002) is as blistering a comeback as the reader could wish. The reader is returned to the grind(r) and glitz of Glasgow with everyone’s favourite auction house employee, Rilke, based once more in the Bowery and engaging in characteristically adversarial clashes and moments of tenderness with his formidable […]

‘In Ascension’, by Martin MacInnes

Despite my anticipation after reading his previous novels, Martin MacInnes’s third novel, In Ascension, left me astounded. It’s a bold claim to make this early on in his career but I genuinely think Martin MacInnes may well be one of the most talented novelists of his generation. Had he been a year younger his presence […]

‘The Woman Clothed with the Sun’, by Stuart Campbell

Rymour, publishers of this gem of a novel, were founded in 2020 by Ian Spring and Ruby McCann. They are fast becoming one to watch in terms of their expanding number of debut novelists and  focus on titles of Scottish interest. Stuart Campbell is a seasoned professional across a number of disciplines and this daring […]

‘Equinox’, by Ruth Aylett and Greg Michaelson

Stairwell Books, who have handed debuts to Ruth Aylett and Greg Michaelson for this co-authored novel, describe themselves as a publisher ‘who specialises in good writing from new writers’ and who emerged with a greater prominence from the pandemic. On the evidence of Equinox there is a talent present and considerable potential from two writers […]

‘The Queen’s Lender’, by Jean Findlay

It’s rare that I have such an immediate response to, and impression made by, a work of fiction but occasionally a novel comes along which is that pleasurable you almost feel compelled to return immediately to the first page and begin again. That is the minimum level of praise that The Queen’s Lender warrants; in […]

‘Bella Caledonia: An Anthology of Writing from 2007–2021’, ed. by Mike Small

Launched at the Radical Book Fair in Edinburgh in 2007 by Mike Small and Kevin Williamson, Bella Caledonia is a disruptive, challenging and subversive online publication that interrogates the conventions of traditional media through the deployment of cutting-edge cultural commentary, progressive and vitriolic observations, and a series of journalistic depth-charges which, once in print, cause […]

‘HellSans’, by Ever Dundas

Ever Dundas’s second novel is a stirring, mordant commentary on the methods by which the contemporary citizen is rendered passive or ‘blissful’ by science that has been harnessed by political structures. Structured around the narratives of Jane Ward (Company CEO) and Dr Icho Smith, HellSans is written in such a way that it does not […]

‘Liberties’, by Peter Bennett

Peter Bennett’s debut novel is part crime thriller, part family drama and part depiction of working-class life in Shettleston, in the East End of Glasgow, during the late 1990s. This is not to say the novel does not have bright spots, far from it. There are many laugh-out-loud comedic moments involving the antics and situations […]

‘The Pharmacist’, by Rachelle Atalla

The Pharmacist, Rachelle Atalla’s debut novel published in 2022, employs as its central premise a society attempting to survive and recover in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event. Liquefied food is dispensed in pouches to each citizen, individuals live in military-style barracks with a wall erected to ensure their health is not compromised by outsiders, […]

‘Deep Wheel Orcadia’, by Harry Josephine Giles

Deep Wheel Orcadia is an experimental text in which the multi-lingual concept is as intimidating for this reviewer as it is a promising, pleasurable challenge. Structurally the text seems to be marketed as a science-fiction verse novel which is written in the Orkney dialect. For the easily daunted, this distinctly unusual act of linguistic bravura […]

‘Vandalism’ by Lizzie Eldridge

Lizzie Eldridge’s second novel is a biting and bleak study of love, betrayal and their consequences, set amongst a group of friends based in Glasgow. For Moira, twenty-eight, quick-witted and feisty, the security of her ever-dependable relationship with the dutiful Andy is a branch to cling to as she finds herself threatening to be swept […]

‘Infinite Ground’ by Martin MacInnes

Martin MacInnes’ debut novel is a striking, estranging and cerebral exposition of the human body and modern alienation set in South America, ostensibly far removed from the author’s roots in Scotland. Before getting to the narrative itself, credit should be paid to the aesthetics of the book as a product, a gloriously decorative hardback with […]

Reading Double, Writing Double: The Fiction of Iain (M.) Banks

Iain Banks’ writing can be located within a context of contemporary British fiction, namely the period after 1970. The rationale for the provision of a context wider than Scottish fiction is determined by Banks who, as Thom Nairn explains, has ‘expressed doubts about the place he may or may not occupy in a specifically Scottish […]

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