SCOTTISH fiction can be "really boring" - according to an award-winning publisher.

In an outspoken column Adrian Searle, of Freight Books, raises concern that Scots are setting "the bar of quality lower for our own literature than that from elsewhere."

Writers, he says, seem to think novels about Scotland or written from a Scottish point of view "have to be grim, introspective, humourless, with nothing much happening."

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This, he argues, is being driven by the literary culture in England "which tends to tolerate overtly Scottish storytelling only when it conforms to one of two stereotypes, either the criminal or the angry."

He calls on writers to find stories which "need to be told" and transcend national boundaries at the same time as reflecting on contemporary life in Scotland.

Freight Books, based in Glasgow, is an indepedent publisher and winner of the title Scottish Publisher of the Year in 2015.

It publishes writers including multiple award winner Janice Galloway and the winner of the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, Kirstin Innes.

Mr Searle - who is also co-founder of a leading literary magazine called Guttter - does not exclude himself from the criticism.

Writing in The Herald he says: "Saying Scottish fiction is boring is, of course, a vast generalisation, and I wouldn’t be in this business if it was all like that, but as someone who reads large amounts of Scottish fiction as part of my job, I’ve come to believe that, as a literary culture, we’ve become infantilised. We set the bar of quality lower for our own literature than that from elsewhere."

The large conglomerates in London, he adds, tell us what to read and "this skews what we think a ‘Scottish’ novel should be".

He says "we can be pathetically grateful that they’ve made it into print at all, so judge them less stringently. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person".

Mr Searle notes celebrated writers, such as Ali Smith, who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and AL Kennedy, Costa Book Award winner, no longer live in Scotland.

Professor Gerard Carruthers, an expert in Scottish Literature at Glasgow University, agreed there is a stereotype of the dour Scot but suggests it is "self-inflicted, as well as the result of outside prejudice, and goes beyond fiction".

He notes the presence of crime and urban settings in the works of a range of writers such Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, and crime writers Ian Rankin and Val MacDermid but notes they have other qualities too.

Professor Carruthers continued: "The truth is contemporary Scottish fiction is as vibrant and variegated as it has ever been. For a nation our size we probably produce as much excellent writing as anywhere else."

He acknowledged the international market for "tartan noir" but said people also wanted to read the works of Sir Walter Scott and Muriel Spark.

Professor Carruthers said: "Publishers are always a bit conservatively constrained and behind the curve as they respond to assumptions about 'the market'. But more often than not, I think, talent of all shades and styles will out eventually."