Monthly Archives: November 2017


Join Birlinn’s authors in Book Week Scotland

Book Week Scotland begins on Monday 27th November and we, at Birlinn, are really excited about all of the amazing events that our authors are involved in. From all things Italian with Mary Contini, to Crime and Wine with Charles E. McGarry and everything in between, there’s bound to be something of interest to you coming up in the next week. And, most of the events are free which is wonderful and a great excuse to do something different on a weeknight and to celebrate all things literary in Scotland. So, read on to find out about all of the exciting Birlinn events happening around the country next week.

Dear AlfonsoJoin Mary Contini at the National Library of Scotland to hear all about the history of her wonderful Italian family, and be transported to the Amalfi coast on this dark, November evening. With recipes, family anecdotes and laughter, Mary paints a vivid picture of life in wartime Italy and Scotland.

Mary is also doing an event at Greywalls Hotel in East Lothian. You can either attend just for the talk and get a hot drink, or you can stay and have a full lunch with wine after hearing Mary speak about her enchanting family history and her latest book, Dear Alfonso: An Italian Feast of Love and Laughter.

Find out more here!

Ghost of Helen Addison

Charles E. McGarry will be appearing in the unusual location of the Arlington Baths Club in Glasgow’s West End. This makes the ideal location however, as his protagonist, Leo Moran, walks the streets of Glasgow’s West End throughout The Ghost of Helen Addison. This event also involves a tour of the baths, some refreshments and a chat from Charles about his debut novel.

A Hint of Wine with a Taste of Crime is another event that Charles E. McGarry will be involved in, along with another fantastic member of the Tartan Noir club: Neil Broadfoot. Join them at Waterstones Dunfermline for a night of crime, nibbles and of course, some wine!

Find out more here!
Poacher's PilgrimageAlastair McIntosh is doing three talks around the Hebrides for this year’s Book Week Scotland. Join him in Stornoway Library (Isle of Lewis), Tarbert Library (Isle of Harris), or Liniclate Library (Isle of Benbecula) to hear all about his book, A Poacher’s Pilgrimage: a book of journeys and a reflection on land, people and culture.

Find out more here!

Scottish Soup Bible
Sue Lawrence is appearing at Central Library in Dundee to talk about all things cooking. Known as the Queen of Baking, Sue is no stranger to the kitchen however her latest book focuses on more savoury treats: The Scottish Soup Bible. Learn some cooking and baking tips from Sue and become inspired by her latest publication to make some hearty winter warmers!

Find out more here!

Course of HistoryStruan Stevenson is appearing in both East Lothian and Milngavie, just outside of Glasgow to talk about his latest book, The Course of History: Ten Meals that Changed the World. Many historical events took place over a good dinner and in this book, Struan explores some of these meals featuring great historical figures. Hear all about these fascinating events and explore some of the recipes, recreated in this book by Chef Tony Singh. Learn about some critical moments in world history and be inspired by the recipes to create some of the meals at home!

Find out more here!

Diary of Archie the Alpaca, The

Kevin MacNeil is appearing at this year’s Book Week Scotland alongside Australian food writer, Kate Young. Kate will be sharing recipes from her latest publication, The Little Library Cook Book which includes meals and recipes enjoyed by your favourite fictional characters. Kevin will be sharing Haiku-kery recipes inspired by his latest book, The Diary of Archie the Alpaca. Both of them will be joined by Streetreads, a charity dedicated to getting good books into the hands of homeless people. Tickets are free and a full meal is included for everyone.

Find out more here!

Cairngorms, A Secret HistoryMike Cawthorne and Patrick Baker are appearing alongside Geof Allan, John Allen and Alan Rowan to talk about the wonderful effect of living in a landscape surrounded by majestic mountains. Join them at The Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore to hear all about the impact these mountains have had on the life and work of these mountaineering authors.
Hebrides copy

Find out more here!


Both Paul Murton and Mairi Hedderwick have celebrated the wonderful Hebrides in their books, The Hebrides and Eye on the Hebrides. Join them in Longniddry Community Centre for a discussion on why the Hebrides hold such a strong appeal to people all over the world, and the effect these magical islands have had on both of these authors.

Find out more here!

Happy Book Week Scotland!

The Birlinn Team

Thirty-One Kings Web Bnner

John Buchan hitches a ride with this month’s Guide to Scottish Literature

Podcast Logo1As we look forward to Christmas (yep, I said it!) Kristian and I bring you the latest episode of our podcast The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature, where we will be celebrating Scotland’s pioneering thriller writer, John Buchan. Yes, before Bond, there was Hannay and his cronies, swashbuckling their way through various escapades keeping the world safe from chaos, destruction and uncertainty. Kristian and I, however, will be taking a look at John Buchan’s final novel, Sick Heart River, written just before Buchan’s death and the beginning of the Second World War.

Sick Heart River is a book very much concerned with the search for meaning in full awareness of one’s own mortality. We follow Edward Leithen – some say Buchan’s most autobiographical character – as he learns he doesn’t have long to live; he is in the advanced stages of tuberculosis. He decides to ‘die on his feet’ and takes a mission to find a missing person in the wilds of northern Canada: Francis Galliard, a self-made modern man who, from humble beginnings in Quebec, has become a powerhouse in the financial sector in New York. The book asks questions about how a life is truly lived, the contrasts and concerns of the civilised cities and the isolated landscapes of forests and mountains, and on our own sense of self as we head towards uncertain futures. It’s a fascinating, intriguing novel, especially when read keeping in mind its historical and personal context.

Thirty-One Kings, ThePolygon is delighted to be the publisher behind beautiful Buchan editions, all introduced by leading literary figures, so we were doubly delighted when Robert J. Harris approached us about writing a brand new Richard Hannay thriller, set against the backdrop of the Nazis marching into Paris. Kristian and I talk to Bob about his love of John Buchan novels, and the inspiration behind his new novel, the marvellous The Thirty-One Kings.

So, get ready for those cliffhangers, have a listen, and enjoy!

Vikki Reilly, November 2017

You can listen to the latest episode below, on SoundCloud, and on iTunes.