Welsh feud fizzles, but Kennedy’s modest proposal will bring sweetness and light to Scottish writing

Last week mystery writer Alexander McCall Smith denounced the “Scottish miserabilism” of Irvine Welsh’s work. Smith subsequently backpedalled, but publishers are thrilled by the move of younger writers away from the “drug-induced wretchedness and body-strewn industrial landscapes” that have characterized Scottish fiction at the pens of Welsh and other contemporary Scottish writers like A.L. Kennedy. Two large houses are planning to set up shop in Scotland.

A.L. Kennedy responds, Jonathan Swift style:

Scots must face the fact that – no matter how many well-meaning publishers open branch offices North of The Border – most of the writing produced will be of quite the Wrong Sort.

As we all know, Scotland’s history has been one long romp: administrators and cannon fodder for the empire, enthusiastic slave traders and killers with a centuries-long tradition of lunacy and genocide – and bringers of toffee and house-trained puppy dogs.

Oh, and let’s not forget the aftermath of the 1745 rising – the slapstick starvation, the merry suppression of a whole culture and, of course, the logical, hilarious conclusion for all the delighted Gaels cleared from their land, betrayed by a variety of people, including other Scots, and threatened, starved and shipped off to die abroad. Like so many in this blessed land, I wake up laughing and filled with pride each morning….

We can only pray for regular book burnings, followed by regular author burnings, and then, in perhaps only a few decades, all will be as it should be – a vast, open reservoir of sweetness and light.


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