One way of describing the books I’ve written might be that every one is its own particular world. Each novel and collection has its own temperature and sense of place that I would like to think might affect the reader as much as anywhere else they may visit in their lives and to which they may feel connected.
Yet none of these titles are “stories” as such, with plots and conventions that follow a known reality and aim to mimic it in some way or other. Those concepts of characterisation and narrative arc and so on that dominate realist fiction are of less interest to me. Rather, each book is somewhere I ask the reader to come inside and inhabit. It’s not to say there are people who live in these pages who might not seem to be as real as people you might know, and it’s not to say the stories of their lives may not be as compelling as others you might enjoy reading about, but I am concerned mostly with imaginative reactions: How the reader could be as connected as the writer that way to the story that unfurls in the mind and on the page.
In all have written ten works of fiction and non fiction, including short stories, fragments and essays in a writing life that spans decades. My publishers in the UK are Faber and Faber, and I have also been translated and published in a range of territories across the world including Bourgois Editions in France who, like Faber and Faber, have supported my work from the outset.
I honour the tradition of independent literary publishing that supports work that can be so very different, from book to book, in terms of content, approach and strategy, and thank my publishers here for our on-going discussions and exchanges.
If Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat is a novel drawing on the conventions of classical tragedy to imagine a protagonist actively setting out to get herself murdered in the manner reported by the misogynist tabloids, then Caroline’s Bikini with the aid of canonical renaissance and modernist poetics confronts the reader with the stupidity of the dominant realist narrative contract (that imagines art merely as a reflection of reality rather than itself a new reality) by hilariously acting out and documenting the collaboration between a character desperate to star in a novel and his amanuensis recruited in the person of a childhood friend with copy skills and literary aspirations, and thereby unraveling modernist free indirect discourse,its third and first person narratives, and re-entangling them. In the process, a new kind of sentence, and new explorations of voice and point of view are expertly furnished”
Dr Jane Goldman, University of Glasgow, General series Editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Virginia Woolf
Kirsty speaking about ‘My Katherine Mansfield Project’, Notting Hill Editions, 2015 – essay, short stories, fragments (first published as “Thorndon” by BWB Books in New Zealand 2014)
‘The Big Music’, Faber and Faber, 2012 – novel, also the subject of film by Gary Gowans featuring Brian Cox; also hear the music accompanying the novel here (link to Lament For Himself, and details of The Lament Room, Dundee Little Theatre, Royal Society of Edinburgh)
List of Books in Order
- Caroline’s Bikini, Faber and Faber, 2018 – novel
- Going Bush, Cahiers Series for Translation, Sylph Editions, 2016 – essay, short story
- My Katherine Mansfield Project, Notting Hill Editions, 2015 – essay, short stories, fragments ( first published as “Thorndon” by BWB Books in New Zealand 2014)
- Infidelities, Faber and Faber, 2014 – short stories
- The Big Music, Faber and Faber, 2012 – novel, also the subject of film by Gary Gowans featuring Brian Cox (link here to film); also hear the music accommaning the novel here (link to Lament For Himself, and details of The Lament Room, Dundee Little Theatre, Royal Society of Edinburgh)
- 44 things, Atlantic Books, 2006 – short stories, fragments, non fiction
- The boy and the sea, Faber and Faber, 2006 – novel
- Featherstone, Faber and Faber, 2002 – novel
- This Place you Return to is Home, Granta Books, 1999 – short stories
- The Keepsake, Granta Books, 1997 – novel
- Rain, Faber and Faber, 1994 – novel
Work in Anthologies:
- “Imagining Men Seeing Women” in 2016, Angelekai, Palgrave
- “Dangerous Dog” In ‘Reader I Married Him’, ed Tracy Chevalier, Borough Press, Harper Collins UK, 2016
- Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence – Word Power Books,. ed Scott Hames, 2012
- “Coming Down off the Hill” in ‘Best New Zealand Short Stories’, ed Paula Morris, Penguin, date?
- “Now I can see how it was, I think” in NW14, The Anthology of New Writing, Granta Books, 2006
- “Tinsel Bright” in ‘Faber Book of Childhood’, ed Lorrie Moore, check date
Awards and Prizes lists
2016 – Winner of The Edge Hill Prize for short stories – for Infidelities
2016 – Shortlisted for The Frank O Connor Award for Short Stories – for Infidelities
2014 – Winner of The New Zealand Book of the Year, novel and overall category winner – for The Big Music
2014 – Shortlisted for The James Tait Black Award for The Big Music
2007 – Winner of The Scottish Book of the Year – for The boy and the sea
2002 – The Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland Bursary for Literature – for The Big Music
1998 – Robert Musil Award for a work in translation – for The Keepsake ( Eine Gesichte mit Blauen Augen)