Thursday, 23 February 2006

Scottish writers' series

Scotland House in Brussels (together with the British Council) has been organising a series of lunchtime meetings with Scottish writers and I was lucky enough to attend the St. Andrew's Day opening lecture last year, given by Alexander McCall Smith of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency fame. Today I went to see, or rather hear, Anne Donovan, who writes short stories and novels, largely in the Glaswegian dialect. She had some fascinating things to say about getting into/under the skin of the male protagonist of her novel, "Buddha Da", who is a painter and decorator who gets into meditation and becomes a Buddhist - it seems she redecorated her home in the process of writing the novel! Originally he was going to be an electrician so that she could make jokes about sparks and enlightenment, but she changed it to something she could do herself precisely so that she could think herself into his life. As she had to ask herself what music he would have listened to in his youth, she also found herself making him a punk, and listening to a lot of punk rock while driving around pretending to be Jim driving his van. In response to a question about how well novels in dialect "travel", she pointed out that "Buddha Da" had won the Prince Maurice literary price, despite the fact that 3 of the judges were French-speakers. Apparently the 3 short-listed authors get a 1-week trip to Mauritius, and the winner a 2-week trip, and she noted that it was the only literary prize that has no difficulties recruiting judges as they also get a free trip to Mauritius! Not all authors read aloud well, but I enjoyed her readings of her own work so much that I didn't buy any of her books as I would prefer audio-books to get the full flavour of the lovely way of speaking she and her characters have. My friend D therefore asked her whether she has recorded anything herself, and she said the rights to "Buddha Da" had been sold and the recording was by someone else, but she is in discussion with someone about recording her own short stories. I will certainly look out for that tape.


At 23/2/06 15:45, Blogger boo said...

karma with a wicked sense of humor. i will be looking out for that book/audiotape. thanks for sharing Q.


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