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Auld enemy in town for battle of the books

The auld enemy are coming back to Scotland.

Christopher Brookmyre

But they're not heading for a football match at Hampden or a rugby game at Murrayfield. The latest incarnation of Anglo-Scottish rivalry is to take place in a library.

On Saturday, writers Christopher Brookmyre and Kevin Williamson will, at least metaphorically, pull on Scotland blue to take on England's Joe Dunthorne and Graham Joyce in a reading competition in Glasgow.

The Literary Death Match is one of a huge number of events being staged this week as part of Book Week Scotland.

More than 350 events are planned across the country in a bid to promote reading.

Scottish authors will make personal appearances, every primary one pupil will receive a family pack to emphasise the importance of reading, and on St Andrew's Day on Friday at 11am, people are encouraged to stop what they're doing and pick up a book.

The Literary Death Match, which will take place at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, will see the four writers perform in front of a live audience and three judges.

The format was originally created in the US by Adrian Todd Zuniga, but organisers think Saturday's match has the potential to be one of the rowdiest ever.

Joyce, the author of Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy, said: "In 1976 I played for Derbyshire Miners Holiday Camp staff team vs Scottish Miners XI. We lost 7-1. I haven't forgotten and I want revenge."

Fight fans should note, though, that the key word in Literary Death Match is literary. Not to be mistaken for literally.

For more details visit www.bookweekscotland.com

Brookmyre and Dunthorne give us the inside lowdown on Literary Death Match

CHRISTOPHER BROOKMYRE (Scotland; author of many novels, including Where the Bodies are Buried  and When the Devil Drives)

Is this your first cap for Scotland?

It will be the second time I’ve represented my country that day: the Scotland writers team are taking on our less talented English counterparts at football on Saturday afternoon.

What position will you be playing?

As death match is a necessarily brutal affair, I will appropriately be adapting a position from the ignoble sport of rugby. In lieu of fly half, I will be playing fly b******.

What’s the advantage of playing in front of a home crowd? And do they get on your back if things aren’t going well?

The principle advantages will be their ability to understand my accent and being cheerily disposed towards lobbing stuff at the English writers. Let’s see how their lofty prose holds up while they’re dodging beer bottles.

What’s the fun of literary death matches?

Mostly being in the immediate orbit of [LDM creator] Todd Zuniga. The man is a force of nature: amazing to behold, but you probably want to be close to cover when he really gets going.

Who goes to see them?

The type of people who once filled the Colosseum and lined the square at public executions.

JOE DUNTHORNE (England; author of Submarine and Wild Abandon)

Is this your first cap for England?

Nope. I've played quite a few games for England, and once for Sweden, after most of the Swedish players got injured playing against England. 

What position will you be playing?

Midfield, I should think. Basically, anyone under the age of 40 automatically qualifies for midfield, since we're expected to be able to run.

Any worries about playing in front of a Scottish crowd?

A few worries. I'm worried that they'll uncover the fact that my mother and lots of my family are Scottish (and that I was born in Wales) and call me a traitor, justifiably.

What’s the fun of the literary death matches?

They are just really great, high-octane events. Last time I did a death match, one of the judges said I was like an embarrassing dad.

Who goes to see them?

All sorts of people, I hope. It's a good event for anyone unsure about going to a literary reading. Basically, any risk of boredom is alleviated by the prospect of each reader being cruelly shot down by the judges.

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