- Doug Johnstone
- 9 August 2007
This article is from 2007.
Getting climate change into a family saga
Iain Banks can probably be accused of many things, but lack of imagination isn’t one of them. While most of his outlandish ideas get channelled into his sci-fi work, there’s still plenty of inventive stuff to be found in his mainstream novels. His latest, The Steep Approach to Garbadale, is a big sprawling family saga based around the Wopuld family, rich thanks to a hugely successful board game called Empire. The story revolves around Alban, the clan’s former enfant terrible, now a cynical drop-out who is drawn back into engaging with the world by a family crisis.
‘At the beginning, Alban’s really a broken man, he’s disillusioned and he’s given up,’ says Banks. ‘But gradually he starts to take control of his life again.’ Dealing with politics, unrequited love, imperialism, religion, climate change, the generation gap and family secrets, the action scoots around the world and sees a more mature Banks, now in his 50s, contemplating life with older eyes. ‘The major feeling I had about this book was that it was about generations trying to correct earlier mistakes. As you get older, you inevitably look at the world in a different way, and I was trying to get that across.’ (Doug Johnstone)
Recommended Reading: The Wasp Factory remains a horrifyingly memorable debut.
14 Aug, 8pm, £8 (£6).