Today is Muriel Spark’s 100th birthday. Last night we celebrated Spark’s centenary with a fantastic event in a jam-packed Usher Hall in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Book Festival hosted by Alan Taylor and Rosemary Goring, and starring Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. And this is only the beginning of the celebrations for Muriel Spark’s centenary year with more events planned at book festivals, film festivals, schools, universities, bookshops, libraries and galleries across the UK and beyond. To catch up on all things #MurielSpark100, please visit the website murielspark100.com.
We at Birlinn are delighted to be the publisher at the centre of the Muriel Spark centenary celebrations with the release of our Centenary Editions – all 22 Muriel Spark novels republished as gorgeous, collectible hardback editions to be released throughout the year. Nine are already available in all good bookshops and online, and you can also sign up to receive the whole set gift-wrapped, posted directly to your door with our Year of Spark offer.
Kristian and I have planned to do a Muriel Spark episode of our Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature podcast since we started, so we’re happy to bring it to you now. In this episode, we start at the very beginning, talking about Spark’s debut novel, The Comforters. It’s a wonderful, impressive, beguiling novel that surprises the reader over and over again. It’s a book about books, a book about faith and worship, a rigorous exploration on truth and knowing all wrapped up within a shaggy dog comic crime caper. There was a lot for Kristian and me to unpack!
We also talk to Alan Taylor about his fantastic memoir, Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark, and his stewardship as the series editor of our Centenary Editions. His memories of Muriel are special, and his respect and admiration for her work sends you back to her novels with even more joyous anticipation!
We hope you enjoy this episode, and we hope to see you at the many Muriel Spark events over the coming year!