Novels written in Scots: ten to add to your TBR

There’s been a resurgence of books written in Scots in the past few years or so. We’ve already featured recent reads like The Young Team and Duck Feet a fair bit on our blog and socials in the past few months but if you’re desperate for some more then here’s a longer list of novels to add to your TBRs.

The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong

Based on Graeme’s own experiences growing up as part of the gang culture in Airdrie you can’t have missed The Young Team because it’s been absolutely everywhere since it was published last year. This is gritty, real, hard-hitting and can’t be missed.

Duck Feet by Ely Percy

Duck Feet is the ultimate nostalgia read for anyone who grew up in Scotland in the late 1990s/early 2000s. This is the kind of book that’ll have you laughing one minute and greetin’ the next. It doesn’t hold back and gives the kind of realistic warts-and-all depiction of growing up Scottish that most people will appreciate.

A Working Class State of Mind by Colin Burnett

Colin Burnett’s debut, A Working Class State of Mind, is a linked short story collection written in east coast dialect. It’s a bold book with memorable characters and doesn’t hold back on criticisms of the UK government and how society looks down on the working class.

Before Now: memoir of a toerag by Moira McPartlin

Before Now is another novel that would appeal to anyone that loved the nostalgia aspect of Duck Feet. Written in Fife dialect it’s the story of one working class lad figuring out his life and making some realisations about his family and community along the way.

Buddha Da by Anne Donovan

I’ve not actually read this yet but in his review oor Aiden said, “Buddha Da embraces you from the first sentence, told through three distinct narratives… We navigate through some heavy topics which are told with poignancy but uplifted with quirky dialogue. The characters are so endearing which engrosses the reader in their story, I felt like I was part of their family.”

The Tartan Special One by Barry Phillips

The Tartan Special One is a surreal book written in Dundonian dialect. It’s absolutely hilarious and would appeal to anyone who loves the batshit aspect of Scottish football. I don’t think it’s in print anymore but copies are relatively easy to get hold of.

Be Guid Tae Yer Mammy by Emma Grae

Emma Grae has written such an incredible multi-generational story about working class Scottish women. Be Guid tae yer Mammy is a book to give up a whole day for and just settle in to enjoy the drama, funny stuff and touching moments in this very Scottish story.

How Late it was, How Late by James Kelman

A Booker prize winner written in Scots? How Late it Was, How Late isn’t the easiest of reads for multiple reasons but this story of quite possibly the worst hangover in existence is well worth the effort.

But n Ben A-Go-Go by Matthew Fitt

Dystopian fiction but write it in Lallans. Matthew Fitt is a bit of a Scots language publishing hero so But n Ben A-Go-Go is not to be missed…except I have missed it (oops) but it’s on my TBR and I’ll be getting to it asap.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

I mean…obviously. I wasn’t even going to include it in the list because at this point who hasn’t heard of Trainspotting. But leaving it out would be amiss so here it is. A classic, an unmistakable voice and a book that feels just as relevant today as it did in the 90s.

There are also a decent amount of books originally published in English that have been translated into Scots. I think it’s especially brilliant to find children’s books that have been published in Scots including a few of Roald Dahl’s (Chairlie and the Chocolate Works or The Guid Freendly Giant, anyone?) or Alice’s Adventirs in Wunnerlaun. Look out for a whole other post about Scottish children’s books coming very soon.

What is your favourite book in Scots? Are there any we don’t have on the list but that should definitely be there?

INTERVIEW: Ely Percy on finding voices, the Scots resurgence and the Scottish school experience (Part Two)

Look up Duck Feet and you’ll see how beloved this novel already is on Scottish Bookstagram. Written entirely in Scots, the book was published by the brilliant Monstrous Regiment earlier this year. For many, me included, this was the book that hooked them onto Ely’s writing, so I had to find out more about the story behind the story. 

Duck Feet is the story of Kirsty Campbell, told through her viewpoint and observations about the world around her: her mates, her school, her family, the community, the world in general, as she moves through High School in the early 2000s. It’s a wry, funny and occasionally emotional read that most Scots (and everyone generally) will be able to relate to.

‘People have asked me if Kirsty is me….absolutely not!’

Like Vicky Romeo before it, Duck Feet started life as a short story. ‘Mslexia had a call out for short stories on the theme of shoes,’ Ely says, ‘And I was sat thinking about all these different shoes, brogues…high heels…trainers. But to stand out, I knew it needed to be something unusual. Then my dad comes into the room with a basin of water for his bad feet and the first story [about Kirsty] just came out. I wrote it then and there and typed it up the next day. It was months before it got published but I thought it was fun, that I’d enjoyed writing about this school setting, and started thinking about where to take it next, which was the French class.

‘It was about ten stories later when I thought, this is the same wee lassie all the time. I was finding her voice really easy to write. I realised I could just keep talking about her and thought then that this was maybe something bigger than short stories.’

Ely was on a mission after that and started tracking down people they went to school with, folk their sister went to school with and folk that went to schools in other parts of Scotland. ‘I spoke to the 13-year-old daughter of one of my college tutors and when she realised she could say anything and talk about folk she really warmed up to it!

‘I was just asking people lots of different questions and finding that people were telling me the same stories. It was like it didn’t matter where you went or when you were at school, it was the same stories coming up. I left school in 1997, my sister was there until 2001, there were people that had been in high school before me, people that had been in high school after me, and they were all saying the same things.

‘There was the person you liked, your best pal, your worst enemy, teacher you liked, teacher that hated you for whatever reason, the wee person that everyone said smelled, the class clown, the person that was always pure trying to fight everyone, the lassie that got pregnant by 15, the person that everyone thought was a total fuckin’ waste of space that would amount to nothing but then surprised everyone by doing better than everyone else…I just saw these same characters coming up over and over.’

‘This just won the Booker prize and I’m being told not to talk like that?’

There were two things Ely wanted to keep out of the novel, things that are probably all too familiar with a lot of those who also grew up in Scotland: Kirsty wouldn’t be bullied and school kids wouldn’t be told to suppress their language.

Ely, who was bullied at school, says, ‘I decided that I didn’t want Kirsty to get bullied. [Because of being bullied at school] I used to think that I hated Renfrew and I wanted to leave there. Writing Duck Feet was actually cathartic to me, because I realised that through choosing to tell the story through the eyes of someone that didn’t get bullied, and was just reporting on what she saw, that it wasn’t Renfrew that I hated. It was just that particular time in my schooling: when I went there and people weren’t very nice because I was a bit different. Kirsty didn’t experience that but she certainly saw other people being bullied for being different or for having problems. I think it was a good choice to do that.’

Ely continues, ‘When I went to school, teachers were always like: speak properly, don’t say aye, don’t say naw. [If you did speak like that] teachers would say to you that you’d be lucky if you ever found work. So, in the book I decided that the teachers wouldn’t pull pupils up for the way they spoke. The kids in the book just talk the way they talked. It took me until I was like 19 to read How Late it Was, How Late and think, wait a minute, this just won the Booker Prize and I’m getting told, “don’t speak like that.”

‘I understand that they were just trying to do what was right. They were telling us to talk properly because otherwise no-one would ever take you seriously, or you’d never get a job. That was the message that was being sent. I just thought that I didn’t want that for my novel.’

‘It’s like a chorus, I can hear different notes in different voices’

Duck Feet has a huge cast of characters but each has such a distinctive voice. This is something that came easily to Ely, and reflects the huge variations in Scottish accents and regional dialects within the country, sometimes even in the same town or area. 

‘I find it easy writing in accents that are round about me,’ Ely says. ‘My sister did say that Kirsty doesn’t really sound like us, but my voice has really changed over the years since I last lived in Renfrew. There are many different people that are living in Renfrew who speak a wee bit different from each other, it’s like a medley of voices, and I needed to pick one voice – Kirsty’s voice – and it just came to me [when I started writing]. 

They elaborated further on this to say, ‘Sometimes I hear somebody talking, it could just be one sentence, and I can just hear the whole conversation coming. When that happens I know that’s a character for my book. Hopefully, in Duck Feet, you can see a couple of different things to show the differences in the characters voices, like Charlene will say “hingmy” and “hing” and Chris Rice and Kelly Marie will both say “were” and “per” while Kirsty doesn’t. I just wanted to change it up a bit and show slightly different accents. 

‘It’s like a chorus, I can hear different notes in people’s voices and if strangers are passing me in the street and [their voice] chimes with me, I could just keep writing it. At least for a short piece anyway.’

Books written in Scots are firmly back in the public consciousness, resonating with people in a way that had maybe been a bit lost for awhile. Ely says, ‘I hadn’t seen anything for about 20 years, maybe more than 20 years. There were these working class Scottish books, written in Scots, then it just…there wasn’t really anything for a long time, I wasn’t really seeing it. But this new wave is great though, it’s great to see it back.’

Follow Ely on Twitter and Instagram and visit their own website. If you missed it, follow the link to Part One.

Aiden’s review of Duck Feet can be found here, on our Instagram. Sarah’s will be up when she pulls a finger oot. 

INTERVIEW: Ely Percy on lesbian rom-coms, challenging prejudice and dealing with rejection (Part One)

The Scot Lit Blog recently caught up with the ever so lovely Ely Percy, author of the belter lesbian rom-com Vicky Romeo + Joolz and everyone’s favourite slice of Scottish school days nostalgia, Duck Feet. We spoke about the long road to publication for both of their novels, challenging prejudice and writing in Scots, among other things. 

It’s another long one so go grab tea and a biscuit and settle in. This is part one, where we discuss all things Vicky Romeo, and you’ll find part two where we talk Duck Feet, if you click this link.

Vicky Romeo + Joolz is a rom-com about Vicky Romeo, a butch Scots-Italian lesbian that thinks she lives in a gangster film, and Joolz, the femme fatale that captures her attention. There’s a whole cast of characters in the novel that surround the leads and it’s a world that you can’t help but be drawn into and fall deeply in love with. 

‘Where are the books about us?’

Ely started writing Vicky Romeo + Joolz in Spring 2002, initially it was going to be a tragic play, basically Julia and Juliet (the lesbian Romeo and Juliet) but, says Ely, ‘I just wasn’t feeling it, it wasn’t working for me, I didn’t believe in it. I just like writing funny stuff. So, I completely binned it and started on the novel.’ 

The influence for the novel came from a few places but, they said, ‘I just wasn’t finding books about young, queer Scottish people who were working class. You’d maybe get one of those elements [present in a book] but I’m looking around at all my pals who are at least two of those things and thinking, “Where are the books about us?”’

Ely says the only book they found that came close was Delilah’s by John Maley, a short story collection set in a gay bar in the late 90s, but jokes they were ‘glad they didn’t read it before the first couple of drafts of Vicky Romeo were done.’ Explaining more about the start of the writing process they said, ‘I didn’t really even know how to structure a novel, I just started writing about this character that was a butch lesbian that wanted to be an actor.’

In the beginning, Vicky Romeo + Joolz was a short story collection. Begun when Ely started creative writing at Glasgow Uni, they had the stories ‘of about 30 different viewpoints (!)’ put together by the Christmas of first year. But Ely initially didn’t get the reception they hoped for from course tutor Liz Lochhead. 

‘She was like, “What the hell is this?”,’ Ely says, ‘She goes, “This is not the book we talked out, you came in and talked about how you wanted to write about this working class butch lesbian, this butch about town womaniser, who had this dream to be an actor, a third generation lesbian…” She says, ‘This is not it. It just doesn’t work. Maybe you’re not a novelist.”’ With that feedback, Ely says, ‘So, I went home and cried. But then I started again and decided to try for one viewpoint…I ended up with two: Vicky and Joolz.’ 

After writing the first 30 pages, Ely took it back to Liz, ‘And she was like, “This! This is what we’re talking about!’ The book was then redrafted but ultimately Ely decided to drop the Joolz viewpoint and make the book solely from Vicky’s POV. ‘I eventually said to Liz, “Oh you were right!” And she says, “I know I was right!”

The next stage was getting an agent. Again with the help of Liz Lochhead, Ely found representation from Giles Gordon when the novel was still just on its second draft, who was fully on the same page as them about the book. ‘I said I don’t want this to be in Borders or Waterstones in the gay and lesbian section. There’s nothing wrong with that but I wanted it to be a book that anybody could read, I wanted it to also be accessible to people who weren’t working class Scottish lesbians. Giles said, “No, we’re not going gaystream, we’re going all the way.” Sadly, Giles passed away soon after taking on Ely and the book.

‘What part of girl-meets-girl-butch-femme-queer-coming-of-age-rom-com did you not get?’’

Eventually, Ely begun to search for representation once again but, ‘It was a solid year of no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’d redrafted it again and nobody wanted it, nobody was interested. I’m sending it out to people and getting the feedback that it’s too gay, it’s too niche, no-one’s going to want to read it…but it’s really funny though. I was wanting them to just tell me it was shite or something. Someone even said I should make one of the lead characters a man and I was like…which one? What part of girl-meets-girl-butch-femme-queer-coming-of-age-rom-com did you not get in the pitch?’

Years later, around 2018, Ely received interest from Knight Errant Press, which had just published F. M, or Other: Quarrels with the Gender Binary. The publisher asked to see the full manuscript of another book in the works, a crime novel with a trans main character, but it wasn’t anywhere near ready. Instead, Ely sent a couple of chapters of this work-in-progress and all of Vicky Romeo. ‘Nathaniel [the publishing director] got back to me and was like, “Oh my God, it’s so gay. I love it.”’ 

Knight Errant took on the book and crowdfunding for publication began but there was still some drama to come before it hit the press, ‘There was very little editing done to it,’ Ely says, ‘Because it had already been through so many drafts and had so much work done to it. But I did change the ending a couple of weeks before the crowdfunder!’ Then, due to a hold up at the printer, Ely was only handed a copy of the finished book an hour before the launch at AyeWrite, but, ‘Technically, the first print run was only 100 copies because we had to split it to get it done faster. So, technically, I did sell out on the night of the launch.’

‘It was ignorance, but now there’s no excuse’

One of the things I, as a reader, appreciate the most about Ely’s work, is how much they don’t hold back or sugarcoat. Their characters are always very human with all the good and bad that comes with that. In Vicky Romeo, Ely saw prejudices and problematic behaviours in the community and turned a mirror on it within the novel. They said, ‘I came out as gay in 2001 and there was so much biphobia at the time.’ 

In attending the L.I.P.S group – a real thing but which also featured heavily in the novel – they did actually have the bisexual awareness workshop that is depicted in the book. ‘There were lots of people you would meet [back then] and get on really well with them, they’d be lovely, then they’d come out with something like “Oh god, here comes my ex, the tourist, she’s not a real one of us,” and all that. And I’m thinking that was not okay back in 2001, and it’s not okay now. I would meet quite a few young women who would say they were lesbians but then later go, “Actually I’m bi but don’t tell anyone because folk don’t like it.” And I’m thinking, I don’t get this, I don’t get what the fucking problem is here.

‘That’s why I wrote about it, because it was absolutely rampant. I think back then I did tolerate it more, or tolerate people who were biphobic. But now I don’t think I could. There’s so much more awareness now.

‘It was just ignorance [back then] but now there’s no excuse, there’s so much information right there.’ 

Follow Ely on Twitter and Instagram and visit their own website (which they’ve been putting a lot of work into recently and looks smashin’ btw!). Highly recommend watching their videos on Instagram of various readings from their work too, it’s an absolute treat. 

Follow the link to Part Two.

Part One: Scottish LGBTQIA+ reads – novels and collections to add to your TBR lists

It’s Pride Month so we’re celebrating here at ScotLitDaily! And it’s been a minute since our last Book List so here’s another collection of books to add to your TBR stacks.

Trumpet by Jackie Kay

The death of legendary jazz trumpeter Joss Moody exposes an extraordinary secret. Unbeknown to all but his wife Millie, Joss was a woman living as a man. The discovery is most devastating for their adopted son, Colman, whose bewildered fury brings the press to the doorstep and sends his grieving mother to the sanctuary of a remote Scottish village.

Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize, Trumpet by Jackie Kay is a starkly beautiful modern classic about the lengths to which people will go for love. It is a moving story of a shared life founded on an intricate lie, of loving deception and lasting devotion, and of the intimate workings of the human heart.

Now regarded as a classic and for good reason. I first read Trumpet when I was at uni and I’m well overdue a re-read.


Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz by Ely Percy

A plucky, on-the-nose, heart-mending comedy about a bunch of queer folks trying to find their way and going about life where not a single queer person dies. 

The novel’s focal point is a gay bar, a world that most folk aren’t exposed to – but this is Vicky Romeo’s ordinary world. Ely captures a perfect snapshot of this locum, of what it was like to be Scottish, working-class, queer and figuring shit out in that period of queer history.

The debut novel of the amazing Ely Percy. If you were a big fan of their recent Duck Feet definitely check this one out next.


Goblin by Ever Dundas

Goblin is an oddball and an outcast. But she’s also a dreamer, a bewitching raconteur, a tomboy adventurer whose spirit can never be crushed. Running feral in World War II London, Goblin witnesses the carnage of the Blitz and sees things that can never be unseen…but can be suppressed. She finds comfort in her beloved animal companions and lives on her wits with friends real and imagined, exploring her own fantastical world of Lizard Kings and Martians and joining the circus.

In 2011, London is burning once again, and an elderly Goblin reluctantly returns to the city. Amidst the chaos of the riots, she must dig up the events of her childhood in search of a harrowing truth. But where lies truth after a lifetime of finding solace in an extraordinary imagination, where the distinction between illusion and reality has possibly been lost forever?


Venus as a Boy by Luke Sutherland

Drinking late one night in an East End club, a writer is approached by Pascal, the friend of a man named Désirée who claims he knows the writer from growing up in Orkney – and that he’s dying and wants him to write his story. The writer ignores him.

But a month later, a package arrives containing, among discs, sunglasses and other trinkets, a photograph of the writer aged eight. So he listens to the discs and emerges amazed and shaken. He then transcribes this heartbreaking story which traces Désirée’s life as a bullied youth in South Ronaldsay to the streets of Soho where he reduces his grateful clients to tears with his astonishing gift of sex…


Ever Fallen in Love by Zoe Strachan

Richard fell for Luke at university. Luke was handsome, dissolute, dangerous; together they did things that Richard has spent the last decade trying to forget. Now his career is on the brink of success, but his younger sister Stephie’s life is in pieces. Her invasion of Richard’s remote west coast sanctuary forces Richard to confront the tragedy and betrayal of his past, and face up to his own role in what happened back then.

In this compelling, visceral tale of how not to fit in, Zoë Strachan takes us on a journey through hedonistic student days to the lives we didn t expect to end up living, and the hopes and fears that never quite leave us.


The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan

Mara’s island is one of stories and magic, but every story ends in the same way. She will finish her days on the cliff, turned to stone and gazing out at the horizon like all the islanders before her.

Mara’s parents – a boxer and a ballerina – chose this enchanted place as a refuge from the turbulence of their previous lives; they wanted to bring up their children somewhere special and safe. But the island and the sea don’t care what people want, and when they claim a price from her family, Mara’s world unravels. It takes the arrival of Pearl, mysterious and irresistible, to light a spark in Mara again, and allow her to consider a different story for herself.


Happiness is Wasted on Me by Kirkland Ciconne

Cumbernauld was built to be the town of the future…that is, if the future looked like a really rubbish episode of Doctor Who. It’s also home to Walter Wedgeworth, a child stuck in a uniquely dysfunctional family controlled by the tyrannical Fishtank, whose CB Radio aerial is a metal middle finger to all the neighbours on Craigieburn Road.

When 11-year-old Walter discovers the corpse of a baby inside a cardboard box, he resolves to ignore it, pretend it didn’t happen. He knows the price of being a grass. But the child’s fate haunts Walter, bringing him into conflict with the world around him. Walter’s journey will lead him from childhood to adulthood; school, college, bereavement, Britpop, his first job, Blackpool, the Spice Girls, feuds with his neighbour, and finally…face-to-face with a child killer. Taking place in the 90s, Happiness Is Wasted On Me is a genre-blending tale that spans a decade in the life of Walter. It’s a coming of age tale, a family drama, a mystery, and a biting dark comedy. Ultimately, it’s the story of how even the strangest people can find their way in the world.

Do we mention this book a lot? Aye. Is it warranted? Also aye. For some gorgeous asexual rep look no further than this absolute gem of a book.


Amphibian by Christina Neuwirth

It’s summer in Edinburgh. Rose Ellis arrives at MoneyTownCashGrowth one morning to find that the entire fourth floor has been flooded with water, in a desperate attempt to improve productivity.

As the water steadily rises, her working situation becomes more and more absurd…


Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith

Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets a brand new set of circumstances?

Ali Smith’s remix of Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold. It is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, a story of puns and doubles, reversals and revelations. Funny and fresh, poetic and political, here is a tale of change for the modern world.


Wain by Rachel Plummer

Wain is a collection of LGBT themed poetry for teens based on retellings of Scottish myths. The collection contains stories about kelpies, selkies, and the Loch Ness Monster, alongside perhaps lesser-known mythical people and creatures, such as wulvers, Ghillie Dhu, and the Cat Sìth. These poems immerse readers in an enriching, diverse and enchanting vision of contemporary life.

The poems in this collection are fun, surprising, and full of a magical mix of myth and contemporary LGBT themes- it is a perfect read for teens who are learning more about themselves, other people, and the world around them. Wain is fully illustrated, and aimed at teenagers.


Tonguit by Harry Josephine Giles

This expansive collection by one of Scotland’s outstanding performers is a moving exploration of identity, and how it is warped and changed by our languages, nationalities, and the often inhuman machinations of the State.

Tonguit stands as a collage of the early 21st century; of growing intolerance, the rise of ATOS, the bedroom tax, growing protest movements, the homogenisation of politics, and beneath it all humanity, trying to love and laugh and live.


Look out for a follow up post on non-fiction reads next week.

Have you read any of these books? Or have any of them on your TBR? Talk to us in the comments or follow us on Instagram for a blether.

You can find most of these books in our own Bookshop at bookshop.org – if you choose to buy from our shop we will receive a small commission which will be equally split between a donation to the Scottish Book Trust at the end of the year and keeping this blog running.

Growing up Scottish: nine reads to add to your TBR

Booker Prize winner Shuggie Bain is a gorgeously written yet brutal and emotive story of one boy growing up in Glasgow as the son of an alcoholic mother. But it’s just one of the many different experiences of growing up Scottish that have been depicted in our homegrown literature. So if Shuggie Bain whetted your appetite for a good ol’ bildungsroman (not a word you can shoehorn into most conversations so yay for an excuse) here’s a list of nine more to add to your TBR.

Boyracers by Alan Bissett

Boyracers is the story of 16 year old Falkirk lad Alvin and his three older mates. Their days involve racing around town in a car called Belinda and debating film and music. Alvin has to overcome all the usual teenage problems – romantic entanglements and deciding what the hell to do with his life. Published in the early 2000s it’s just as relevant today and a well-deserved cult classic.

Good to know: If you loved the book you can find out what happened to Alvin and his pals next in Pack Men.


Duck Feet by Ely Percy

Duck Feet is a coming-of-age novel, set in the mid-noughties in Renfrew and Paisley, Scotland. It follows the lives of 12-year-old Kirsty Campbell and her friends as they navigate life from first to sixth year at Renfrew Grammar school. This book is a celebration of youth in an ever-changing world. It uses humour to tackle hard-hitting subjects such as drugs, bullying, sexuality, and teenage pregnancy. But moreover, it is a relatable and accessible portrait of figuring out who you are, plunging into the currents of life, and most of all, finding hope.

Read Aiden’s review of Duck Feet here


The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong

2005. Glasgow is named Europe’s Murder Capital, driven by a violent territorial gang and knife culture. In the housing schemes of adjacent Lanarkshire, Scotland’s former industrial heartland, wee boys become postcode warriors.

2004. Azzy Williams joins the Young Team [YTP]. A brutal gang conflict with their deadly rivals, the Young Toi [YTB] begins.

2012. Azzy dreams of another life. He faces his toughest fight of all – the fight for a different future.

Expect Buckfast. Expect bravado. Expect street philosophy. Expect rave culture. Expect anxiety. Expect addiction. Expect a serious facial injury every six hours. Expect murder.

Hope for a way out.

Read our The Young Team reviews here and here.


The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

Fifteen-year old Anais Hendricks is smart, funny and fierce, but she is also a child who has been let down, or worse, by just about every adult she has ever met. Sitting in the back of a police car, she finds herself headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders where the social workers are as suspicious as its residents. But Anais can’t remember the events that have led her there, or why she has blood on her school uniform…

We featured Jenni Fagan’s second novel The Sunlight Pilgrims in our featured Dystopian Reads.


Kieron Smith, Boy by James Kelman

Rejected by his brother and largely ignored by his parents, Kieron Smith finds comfort – and endless stories – in the home of his much-loved grandparents. But when his family move to a new housing scheme on the outskirts of Glasgow, a world away from the close community of the tenements, Kieron struggles to find a way to adapt to his new life.

Kieron Smith, boy is a brilliant evocation of an urban childhood. Capturing the joys, frustrations, injustices, excitements, revels, battles, games, uncertainties, questions, lies, discoveries and sheer of wonder of boyhood, it is a story of one boy and every boy. It is James Kelman at his very best.


Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news.

Mayflies is a memorial to youth’s euphorias and to everyday tragedy. A tender goodbye to an old union, it discovers the joy and the costs of love.

Read Aiden’s review of Mayflies here.


Happiness is wasted on me by Kirkland Ciccone

Cumbernauld was built to be the town of the future…that is, if the future looked like a really rubbish episode of Doctor Who.

It’s also home to Walter Wedgeworth, a child stuck in a uniquely dysfunctional family controlled by the tyrannical Fishtank, whose CB Radio aerial is a metal middle finger to all the neighbours on Craigieburn Road. When 11-year-old Walter discovers the corpse of a baby inside a cardboard box, he resolves to ignore it, pretend it didn’t happen.

He knows the price of being a grass.

But the child’s fate haunts Walter, bringing him into conflict with the world around him. Walter’s journey will lead him from childhood to adulthood; school, college, bereavement, Britpop, his first job, Blackpool, the Spice Girls, feuds with his neighbour, and finally…face-to-face with a child killer.

Taking place in the 90s, Happiness Is Wasted On Me is a genre-blending tale that spans a decade in the life of Walter. It’s a coming of age tale, a family drama, a mystery, and a biting dark comedy. Ultimately, it’s the story of how even the strangest people can find their way in the world.

Read our review of Happiness is Wasted on Me here.


Sonny and Me by Ross Sayers

‘Whoever said yer school days are the best days ae yer life was at the absolute wind up. I hink maist adults dinnae mind whit it was really like. Wait til yeese hear whit Sonny and me got detention for…’

Daughter and Sonny are two best friends just trying to get through fourth year at high school. But when their favourite teacher leaves unexpectedly, and no one will say why, the boys decide to start their own investigation. As they dig deeper into the staff at Battlefield High, they discover a dark secret which one person will kill to protect…Will they uncover the truth without being expelled? Can their friendship survive when personal secrets are revealed? And will they manage to skive off double English?

Divided City by Theresa Breslin

A young man lies bleeding in the street.

It could be any street, in any city. But it’s not. It’s Glasgow. And it’s May – the marching season. The Orange Walks have begun.

Graham doesn’t want to be involved. He just wants to play football with his new mate, Joe. But when he witnesses a shocking moment of violence, suddenly he and Joe are involved. With Catholics, and with Protestants. With a young Muslim asylum-seeker, and his girlfriend. With all the old rivalries – and fears . . .

A gripping tale about two boys who must find their own answers – and their own way forward – in a world divided by differences.


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