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2021 Previews: Alexander McCall Smith

  16 Feb '21   |  Posted by: Birlinn

What’s coming from the master storyteller this year? Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific authors and his books are in huge demand around the world. He is universally loved for his No. 1 Ladies’s Detective Agency books –– more than 25 million copies sold around the world – but also for his 44 Scotland Street books with favourite character little Bertie, his stand alone novels, his comic fiction and short stories and his wonderful children’s stories. His books have been translated into 46 languages and become bestsellers across the world. And at the end of last year, we published his first poetry collection – poems which have been supporting readers and those working on the frontline throughout the various stages of Covid lockdown.

This year we are being spoiled with three brand new fiction books, including a new entry into the long-running Scotland Street series, a brand new standalone novel, and a children’s book.

Young Precious: The Collected Adventures, Alexander McCall Smith (July)
Once upon a time in Botswana there was a little girl called Precious, who grew up to become a famous detective.
But even as a young girl she had an extraordinary ability to solve mysteries. This volume contains all her first
adventures, from the mystery of some missing snacks to the clues that lead to a family reunion.
This is a special collection which includes all four of the Young Precious adventures so far:
Precious and the Monkeys
Precious and the Missing Lion
Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill
Precious and the Zebra Necklace

The Pavilion Above the Clouds, Alexander McCall Smith (August)
This began in 1930, in what was then Ceylon, in a bungalow half way up a hill. On occasion, when conditions were right, this house would be shrouded with cool mist, like thin, attenuated rain, and in this way would be made invisible from the plains far below’

One of the joys of Alexander’s writing is his remarkable use of place and here he offers the colours, vistas and rolling hills of the central highlands of what is now known as Sri Lanka – but at the time when this novel is set, the country was known as Ceylon. The landscape is a force in this novel – as striking as the social interactions: the green tea plants emerging from mists shrouding the plantations; the heat that you can both feel and hear through his writing; the views from the high elevations. Part mystery this book also scratches below the surface and offers a window into the age in which the novel is set. This story of family and privilege, belonging and distance is intensely powerful, the seasons of Ceylon always in the foreground – once read, imprinted.

Scotland Street, vol. 15, Alexander McCall Smith (November)

We have no title for this one yet but we do know that this, the longest-running serial novel in the world, will return to the pages of the Scotsman newspaper in August and will be published in book form in November – with an opportunity to meet up with everyone’s favourite neighbours and their lives on Edinburgh’s Scotland Street.

Tiny Tales, Alexander McCall Smith (paperback, May)
Stories do not have to be long. In the space of a couple of sentences – or even a page or two – we may see the human heart exposed in a way that is more powerful than occurs in many much longer narratives.

In Tiny Tales, Alexander McCall Smith explores romance, ambition, kindness and happiness in thirty short stories that range in length from the short to the minuscule. The settings are as diverse as the characters – Scotland, England, Australia, the United States – combining to create a rich and surprising tableau. An Australian pope? A persuasive cosmetic surgeon? The world’s laziest cat. A group of students living together and getting romantically entangled? All human and animal life is here – in miniature.

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