Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Book of the Week - James Robertson, And the Land Lay Still

"And The Land Lay Still" is the fourth novel of James Robertson. Robertson is a Scots writer, and all of his books are grounded strongly in Scottish life and culture. He is the author of three previous novels, The Fanatic, Joseph Knight and The Testament of Gideon Mack. Joseph Knight was awarded the two major Scottish literary awards in 2003/4 – the Saltire Book of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year – and The Testament of Gideon Mack was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, picked by Richard and Judy's Book Club, and shortlisted for the Saltire Book of the Year award. The other side of Robertson's career for the last decade has been Itchy Coo, a publisher of children's books in the Scots language. Initially funded by the Scottish Arts Council, Itchy Coo has proved to be a popular enterprise. Robertson's interest in and use of Scots is also featured heavily in his poetry and prose, and notably in his first two novels, which blend modern English with Scots. Politically, Robertson has generally been viewed as a supporter of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and was involved in the Scottish Constitutional Convention in the 1980s. "And the Land Lay Still" is a large book, and takes a broad overview of Scottish life in the last century. Reviewers have highlighted it as a potentially important novel, though only time will tell. However, if you can find a signed copy at around cover price it is well worth picking up.

“Michael Pendreich is curating an exhibition of photographs by his late, celebrated father Angus for the National Gallery of Photography in Edinburgh. The show will cover fifty years of Scottish life but, as he arranges the images and writes his catalogue essay, what story is Michael really trying to tell: his father's, his own or that of Scotland itself? And what of the stories of the individuals captured by Angus Pendreich's lens over all those decades? The homeless wanderer collecting pebbles; the Second World War veteran and the Asian shopkeeper, fighting to make better lives for their families; the Conservative MP with a secret passion, and his drop-out sister, vengeful against class privilege; the alcoholic intelligence officer betrayed on all sides, not least by his own inadequacy; the activists fighting for Scottish Home Rule – all have their own tales to tell. Tracing the intertwined lives of an unforgettable cast of characters, James Robertson's new novel is a searching journey into the heart of a country of high hopes and unfulfilled dreams, private compromises and hidden agendas. Brilliantly blending the personal and the political, And The Land Stay Still sweeps away the dust and grime of the postwar years to reveal a rich mosaic of 20th-century Scottish life.”

No comments: