Birlinn Books – Notes from the Basement

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

With attention turning towards the Tokyo Olympics, author Iain Maloney was on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book this week, talking about contemporary Japanese fiction with Emily Itami and Johny Pitts.

Iain’s memoir of moving to rural Japan, The Only Gaijin in the Village, is a passionate and very funny introduction to life beyond the neon city lights.

Ian Williams’s piece ‘How China Bought Cambridge’ is the cover story in this week’s Spectator. |[Spectator, £]

It’s a multi-faceted and multimedia story: podcast listeners can hear Ian in discussion with Harry Goodwin, Editor in Chief of the Cambridge Student newspaper, on Spectator’s podcast The Edition. |[Apple Podcasts]

Telly addicts can watch it on Spectator TV’s ‘The Week in 60 Mins’. |[Spectator TV]

Or, best of all, you can skip all that and just buy the book: Every Breath You Take: China’s New Tyranny is THE book to read on China this year.

The new issue of Scottish Field magazine is out, full of summery news, and high praise for our summer fiction. They say that Alistair Moffat’s novel The Night Before Morning is ‘a fictional triumph, a thought-provoking, powerful tale of derring-do’.

And Denzil Meyrick’s For Any Other Truth has a trifecta of ‘well-considered smatterings of dark humour…a satisfying pace…and beautiful Scottish backdrops’ – the opening pages will take you straight to a summer’s evening on the machair.

For those on summer holidays, or dreaming of them as the sun shines, our Poem of the Week is ‘Beachcomber’ by George Mackay Brown.

The Dundee Courier did an in-depth interview with Polly Pullar about our affection for the Red Squirrel and the species’ precarious comeback. A Scurry of Squirrels is available now.

If the Euros have whetted your appetite to dive deeper into what’s made the Beautiful Game the way it is today, we can recommend two books in particular and they’re both ON SALE: Ed Aaron’s Made in Africa: The History of African Players in English Football and What Happened to Serie A? The Rise, Fall and Signs of Revival.

But if you’re taking a break from football and prefer golf, the 149th Open is underway at Royal St George’s in Kent this week. Young Tom Morris, subject of Monarch of the Green, won four of the previous 148, all in a row.

You can read an extract from that biography right here. Author Steven Proctor played with period equipment while writing to get an authentic feel for his subject.

And finally, getting the most out of summer berries is deliciously easy: so effortless, in fact, that this zingy, decadent recipe is called a Slump. It’s from Ghillie Basan’s Scottish Brunch Bible but is delicious at any time of day. Summer Berry Slump – have a go!
Remember your hat and your sunscreen!

Team Birlinn