Andrew Crumey: “Art is the expression of value and science is the explanation of phenomena . . . I’m interested in the borderline of the explanatory and the expressive.”
Alasdair Gray, James Kelman, A.L. Kennedy, Allan Massie, Val McDermid, Andrew O’Hagan, Ian Rankin, Ali Smith, Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner . . . the list of fine Scottish writers is a long one.
Andrew Crumey was in conversation with doyenne of translators, Margaret Jull Costa, and Eric Lane, founder of Dedalus Books at the opening event of the BookBlast 10×10 Tour at Waterstones in Gower Street, Bloomsbury, on 11 September. HEAR HERE
I was delighted to host Andrew not just for literary reasons, but because I have a soft spot for Scotland. My maternal grandmother’s Scottishness melds with my Frenchness and that old cliché about the Auld Alliance. (My eccentric late father – who was something of a dandy – loved to wear his Black Watch tartan jacket which somehow became ineffably French as he puffed at a Proustian belladonna cigarette and quoted Walter Scott in a heavy accent.)
When he visited Edinburgh, General de Gaulle famously said: “I do not think that a Frenchman can ever come to Scotland without feeling sensitive to the special emotion – the awareness of a thousand ties, still living and cherished, at the heart of the Franco-Scottish alliance, the oldest alliance in the world.”
Andrew Crumey’s book The Great Chain of Unbeing features on this year’s Saltire Literary Awards Fiction Book of the Year shortlist (he won the Saltire First Book Award in 1994) alongside The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson, Dead Men’s Trousers by Irvine Welsh and Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela. They are up against Manda Scott for A Treachery of Spies and Helen Sedgwick for The Growing Season. The winner will be announced this coming Friday 30 November.
I was fortunate to be able to interview Andrew Crumey before the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event on 11 September. So here he is talking about growing up in Glasgow and his storytelling grandma . . . total immersion in Dostoyevsky’s Crime & Punishment as a young teen . . . moving from a career in teaching science to writing – “You have to try a thing to see how it works”– which he now teaches at Northumbria University, the differences between being with an indie publisher (the boutique approach) vs. a megacorp (the multinational chain approach), and more . . .
The Saltire Society believes that culture is at the heart of who we are as individuals, as a community, as a country. The Saltire Literary Awards – supported by Creative Scotland – celebrate the Scottish imagination.
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