Aye Write!

festival begins tomorrow. Here are ten novels from the city that dominates the literary scene today.


Alasdair Gray

Gray's Unthank, Glasgow's fictional alter ego, has taken on a life of its. No novel has had such an impact on the city, Gray combining earthy realism with the fantastical in a way that oddly but brilliantly captures the spirit of the place.

Swing Hammer Swing!

Jeff Torrington

Torrington's novel won the Whitbread prize for its pithy account of an unemployed man waiting for his wife to give birth, while all around him the Gorbals are being demolished. One critic said that "It is the spirit of Glasgow distilled into 400 pages. Each tiny drop intoxicating - and thus to be slowly savoured - but you can't help just necking half the bottle at one go."


William McIlvanney

McIlvanney's philosophy-loving gumshoe takes the reader deep into the heart of Glasgow as DI Laidlaw and his sidekick try to solve the murder of a teenage girl. The authentic voice of Glasgow is in every line.

The Magic Flute

Alan Spence

Spence's story of four Glasgow boys growing up in an era of rampant sectarianism - the 1960s and 70s - is a beautiful and thoughtful depiction of friendship in a harsh, difficult environment.


Denise Mina

The thriller that made Mina's name, it's about a woman who finds the murdered body of her married lover in her living room, and realises she will be next on the killer's list. Mina's original, conversational voice was an immediate hit.

Keiron Smith, boy

James Kelman

Kelman's story follows the growing up of schoolboy Keiron as his family moves from an innercity tenement to a new scheme on the edge of Glasgow. It marked a change of tone in Kelman's style, being more gentle and wistful than earlier works.

The Cutting Room

Louise Welsh

An auctioneer discovers disturbing snuff photographs in a collection of items he is preparing for sale in an old man's house, and feels obliged to discover more about of the girl in them. As one reviewer wrote, of Welsh's well-received debut, "the city becomes a character in its own right; Gothic, dismal, decaying and frightening in equal measure".

So I am Glad

A L Kennedy

Although you couldn't claim that Glasgow features significantly in this interior story, the sense of its presence can be felt in this outstanding account of a woman whose traumatic experiences as a young girl lead to her spiralling into near insanity.

The Dear Green Place

Archie Hind

Hind's first novel, it tells the story of a would-be writer whose ambitions are blighted by poverty and despair. When it was published Hinds, a former trolley-bus driver and worker in a slaughterhouse, became a literary celebrity, but he never completed another novel.

Buddha Da

Anne Donovan

Donovan's painter-decorator finds himself turning to Buddhism to make sense of life after a chance encounter with a Buddhist in a sandwich shop. A drolly winning but deep novel about spiritual needs and the Scottish working-class straitjacket, it is told in a relaxed Glasgow idiom from the perspective of the hero Jimmy's wife and daughter as well as himself.