Alasdair Gray to discuss his biography, Of Me and Others, at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014
The book provides an insight into the Gray that often doesn’t shine through his work
This article is from 2014.
One of the country’s finest writers and painters, Alasdair Gray has been a monumental influence on Scottish writing since long before the publication of his first and most famous novel, Lanark. Known for his eccentricity and individualistic style, his editor Alastair Braidwood told us to expect the unexpected at Gray’s Edinburgh International Book Festival event.
‘You’re never entirely sure what an Alasdair Gray live event will be like,’ he says. ‘What I can guarantee is that it won’t be dull. He couldn’t be that if he tried.’
Published by Cargo earlier this year, Gray’s latest book, Of Me and Others, has received tremendous praise from fans and critics alike. Referred to as his ‘biography’, Braidwood explains that, much like its author, it’s a little unconventional.
‘In the foreword to the book Alasdair says that it might be described as “A Life in Prose”. It is not a normal autobiography, if it can be called that at all, but we never expected conformity from Alasdair Gray.’
However Braidwood points out that the book acts exactly like a biography should: by providing an insight into the Alasdair Gray that often doesn’t shine through his work. ‘Putting personal bias aside, Of Me and Others is important as it shows a side to Alasdair’s life that many readers will not be aware of; a more personal and political view of the world than they may garner through his fiction.’
But what is it about Gray’s work that means it remains a staggering influence on even today’s new writers? Why is Scotland still in love with Alasdair Gray?
‘It endures because he is still relevant, artistically and politically,’ Braidwood explains. ‘The best literature travels but it must also resonate at home, and with a greater significance. That’s not something to deny, it’s something to celebrate.’