Birlinn Books – Notes from the Basement

Tuesday, 12 October, 2021
It’s 60 years since The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie made its first appearance in print. It was published almost in its entirety in the New Yorker’s print issue of 14 October 1961. Polygon’s is the definitive modern edition. Buy it here. |[New Yorker]

Sunday 17 October sees the centenary of the birth of George Mackay Brown. In celebration, we have two new collections of his work: Carve the Runes, selected poetry edited by Kathleen Jamie and Simple Fire, selected short stories edited by Malachy Tallack.

Our new edition of An Orkney Tapestry, edited by Linden Bicket and Kirsteen McCue, brings this text back into print for the first time since the late 70s.

Composer Erland Cooper and violinist Daniel Pioro’s musical tribute to An Orkney Tapestry was broadcast on Radio 3. Catch up on the atmospherics in 30 minutes of words and music here.

Congratulations to Merryn Glover, whose epic of Highland life, Of Stone and Sky, has won the Bookmark Festival Book of the Year. The judges praised its ‘depth and richness of texture’.

The brilliant Mara Menzies was on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday Morning with Cathy Macdonald, talking Blood and Gold, how stories ‘seep into the cracks of the soul’ and contributing to the panel discussion of colourism. Listen here. |[BBC Sounds]

Mara’s online launch event will be hosted by the National Library of Scotland on Thursday 14 October. Details here.

The Scotsman had a stellar publication-day review of Angus Robertson’s Vienna: The International Capital. Joyce McMillan called it ‘ambitious, panoramic, full of fascinating detail’ and nailed its central thesis: ‘Vienna is a capital that in many ways transcends the nation in which it sits, and has always been a centre for negotiation, administration and exchange among the many peoples of Europe’. Read the whole review. |[Scotsman]

Tan-tan-ta-ra! Angus has put together a Spotify playlist for the book. From Salieri’s Imperial Fanfare to Ultravox via Mozart and Strauss, it’s a grand accompaniment.

Ian Williams, author of Every Breath You Take: China’s New Tyranny, is in the Spectator this week with this analysis of China’s recent aggression towards Taiwan.

The story of Wojtek, the War Hero Bear, is coming to the silver screen. Read more about this Polish-Scottish war story here.

Denise Mina spoke to the Times about Rizzio’s relevance to contemporary politics, and how some questions (does Scotland, as a small country, turn to Europe or to England?) are universal. They also called the book ‘pacey and incredibly tender’. |[The Times, £]

Reviewers are on rare form right now, hitting purple patches all over the place: Ian Buxton’s Gin: The Ultimate Companion received the following praise in Cardiff’s Western Mail, ‘If good humour and knowledge make excellent bedfellows, then Ian Buxton has made a luxury divan for them snuggle up on.’

Perhaps the author had indulged in Ghillie Basan’s oatmeal porridge and tipsy prunes that morning? From brand new cookbook A Taste of the Highlands, it’s just the thing for a cold morning and has a great prefatory discussion of porridge preferences.

How do you eat your porridge? Tell us!

Team Birlinn