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A Host of Women’s Voices for International Women’s Day

  08 Mar '24   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Women telling Scotland’s Story

On this, International Women’s Day we are proud to highlight the women we publish, a host of women using the strength of their voices and their craft, re-exploring the story of Scotland from all angles and in all genres.

Discover them here, including (BUT many more to explore on this website):

Rosemary Going in Scotland Her Story: The Nation’s History by the Women who Lived It. ‘A fine book and an important one, justly celebrated for bringing half the population in from historical darkness’ BBC Radio. Scotland’s history has been told many times, but never exclusively by its women… until now.

Homecoming: The Scottish Years of Mary Queen of Scots, again by Rosemary Goring: ‘irresistibly unbuttoned’ The Times. Rosemary tells the story of Mary’s Scottish years through the often dramatic and atmospheric locations and setting where the events that shaped her life took place, and the part Scotland played in her downfall. ‘Intelligent, engaging and well-balanced’ The Scotsman.

1000 women of Scotland, covering the mainland from north to south and her islands, in  The Great Tapestry of Scotland. Together their fingers nimbly translate Scotland’s story into stitch, inserting women into the story we thought we knew.

The extra-ordinary and inspriational power of The Hidden Fires by Merryn Glover, shortlisted for the Boardman Taker award for Mountain Literature. A story of homecoming – a joyous celebration of finding yourself in the Cairngorms, ‘a rare beauty, where the palce and sense of self is revealed and celebrated in all its blazing glory and wonder’ Love Reading

Blood and Gold by Mara Menzies, the ‘exquisite piece of storytelling’ (The Guardian) that propelled the judges of the Saltire Awards, to select this outstanding book as Scottish Fiction Book of the Year. Mara explores what it means to grow up black in a white world and looks at the darkness and the light in both Scottish and African history, as the mother in her book, brings tales of journeying to life to inform the future of the young daughter she will soon leave. ‘Menzies’ great achievement is to tap into the subtle power of allegory to make us consider familiar subjects of justice and injustice, greed and selflessness’ Scotland on Sunday

From Scotland to the world with Jen Stout in a remarkable and moving book on her time in Ukraine during the ongoing conflict, in what is a deeply reported, deeply human account by this young journalist from Shetland. Night Train to Odesa is released in May of this year and is already attracting a great deal of attention.

Rizzio by Denise Mina (a Darkland Tale): ‘rich with cinema-sharp imagery… a tour de force work of art’ Wallstreet Journal, Best Books of the Year. Denise portrays the sexual dynamics and politics of power between men and women, monarch and subjects, master and servants.

Hex by Jenni Fagan (A Darkland Tale): ‘A rage-fuelled thunderbolt… Fagan cultivates the occult energy swirling around her themes, even as she explodes the myths that enable male violence’ Daily Mail  Jenni explores one of the most turbulent moments in Scotland’s history – the North Berwick Witch Trials. ‘Exceptional… I’m still reeling from it, it is devastating’ BBC

And coming soon

Again in the Darkland Tales series, a novel: Queen Macbeth by Val McDermid in which this Sunday Times No.1 best-selling author drags the truth out of the shadows, exposing the patriarchal prejudices of history

Memo for Spring by Liz Lochhead, and in particular her poem, The Choosing. Liz was given a Life Time Achievement award last year by the Saltire Society in Scotland’s National Book Awards.

Which neatly leads us on to the extraordinary talent of our female poets:

Blood Salt Spring by Edinburgh’s Makar,  Hannah Lavery, a mediation on where we are: exploring ideas of nation, race and belonging.

Moder Dy, Mother Wave by Roseanne Watt, ‘a celebration of language, place, and the mystery of being alive, alive, alive!’ Janice Galloway

KISHIE WIFE

Ootadaeks

Though some say otherwise,

she was the first

who went to fetch the fire

from the hills. Of course she was.

No one else could bear

a load like that, slung over her back

like an infant; all its brilliant,

burning weight.from Moder Dy, 2019

Iona Lee’s Anamesis, characterised by a deep love of language, its music and its magic, her poems reflect on memory, the future and her journey.

Alicia Pirmohamed’s Another Way to Split Water, a lyrical exploration of how ancestral memory reforms and transforms throughout generations, through stories told and retold, imagined and reimagined. It is a meditation on womanhood, belonging, faith, intimacy, and the natural world. ‘Shot through with love, beauty and deeply tender moments that live on far beyond the page‘ Gutter

And of course, the powerful voice of Jenni Hagan, recognised the world over for her extraordinary skill as a novelist but a poet at heart. And that shows in her collection, The Bone Collection, examining and interpreting all human life and responding to themes of identity, of place, of love and the unloved that ‘excels in moments of tenderness‘ (The Scotsman).

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