YES: Hugh Andrew

Jim Kelman's polemic on the bastardisation of our real literary tradition and heritage strikes a strong chord with me. This is not to denigrate any writer or form of writing but to see the distortion of cultural values which results when whole swathes of our heritage are ignored or sublimated.

Jim is absolutely right in his comments regarding the marginalisation of the radical tradition in Scotland. We have also marginalised regional traditions of writing; whole swathes of our history remain to be rediscovered and our country is reduced to a series of easy headlines dictated from outside its borders.

We should remember in terms of promotion of books that the last 10 years have seen Scotland lose all control of its own book trade; the last century saw the destruction of Scotland as the largest publishing centre in the world. One of the tragedies of the Scottish parli ament is that it has arrived at a time when so many of the institutions and value centres of what it is to be Scottish have come under severe and often fatal attack.

I come from Paisley, which is run down and de-industrialised now, but in the 19th century it was an industrial powerhouse. One of the books which I remember best is Tom Leonard's Radical Renfrew, which reproduced the work of more than 60 local poets of the 19th century. I remember being both astonished and proud that my town, my community, had produced writers of such passion, such radicalism and such quality. Who remembers them now?

The written word gives the people of Scotland an imagined community. It should be their imagined community, put together by them, for them. It will include much poor writing and much that is ephemeral, but it will be "owned" by the people who created it and it is from that platform that genius can emerge. I remember visiting Dvorak's house in Prague and being struck by how immensely proud the Czechs were of one of music's great figures, and one of their national geniuses. I remember thinking that, apart from what has now become an annualised Burns jamboree, we had nothing similar in Scotland.

What capitalism in its current form has delivered to Scotland is a hollow mockery of "choice", a commoditisation of value according to the diktats of head offices based far from here, and a spiritual anaesthetic which is slowly choking the life from us.

We have accepted the Faustian compact of material plenty for mental starvation.

Hugh Andrew is managing director of Birlinn Publishing


NO: Denise Mina

Prizes such as the Nobel and Booker are always for literary fiction, never for genre novels. Genre fiction doesn't need prizes to promote it and we don't need money from the Nobel Prize Committee because we make a good living - people buy the books. People who read crime fiction are greedy readers who read a lot. For literary fiction readers, books are the fibre in their intellectual diet; they may read one or two a year, then bang on about them at dinner parties.

In the Elizabethan age, Shakespeare's audiences would have thrown tomatoes if the play was rubbish. In the same way, crime fiction readers will throw a book aside if they're not enjoying it. Literary fiction readers will plough on to the end of a turgid novel, assuming they're not in a position to say it's rubbish - they must have misunderstood it, or they're not educated enough.

JK Rowling sells well among adults partly because her books provide opportunities to enjoy stories, instead of going into this awful schtick about pushing the boundaries of literary technique.

Why would a reader care about that? It's like asking people to appreciate the welding on their plumbing. It's trainspotting.

Kelman is a beautiful writer and I love his books, but this debate actually drives readers toward genre fiction. It's like the prefects looking down on the juniors. Status is so nebulous in the arts that everyone's looking for their place on the rung. It's really disappointing.

You think when you leave a normal job and become an artist you won't have to worry about being the regional under-sub manager or whatever, but actually, people in the arts are more concerned than anyone about status. And that's what this is: a play for status.

A lot of literary fiction writers take themselves incredibly seriously, and they're not contributing to the general joy of the people. Having to sit and talk to literary writers who consider themselves very high-church is one of the dreariest experiences of my life.

They just monologue about their form, about the essential importance of literature or Walter Scott or how they met Norman Mailer. That's one of the reasons they don't get press coverage: no-one really cares. JK Rowling will talk about the politics of working in a charity or about being a single mum. Ian Rankin will talk about comics or music. But the persona of "writer" is dull. It's just donning a cape and smoking a pipe and swanning about being patronising. That act is so dreary and so over.

Denise Mina is a crime writer. Her latest novel, Still Midnight, is published by Orion, £12.99