Her boyfriend said she was quirky, but she is much more than that. Trust, love, relationships; parents, children, lovers; death, wealth, home: these are the ordinary parts of the everyday that become extraordinary when you think of them as Helen does, each waking hour. Mo said she was quirky begins on Helen’s way home from work, with the strangest of moments when a skinny, down-at-heel man crosses the road in front of her and appears to be her lost brother. What follows is an inspired and absorbing story of twenty-four hours in the life of a young woman.
Rejected by his brother and largely ignored by his parents, Kieron Smith finds comfort – and endless stories – in the home of his much-loved grandparents. But when his family move to a new housing scheme on the outskirts of Glasgow, a world away from the close community of the tenements, Kieron struggles to find a way to adapt to his new life. Kieron Smith, boy is a brilliant evocation of an urban childhood. Capturing the joys, frustrations, injustices, excitements, revels, battles, games, uncertainties, questions, lies, discoveries and sheer of wonder of boyhood, it is a story of one boy and every boy.
Jeremiah Brown is a man of extremes. So when he nips out for a quick drink on the eve of returning to his native Scotland after twelve years in America, anything could happen. Anything at all. Just one quick drink to help him sleep but there’s something about this town and this bar that reminds him of his ex. Soon the memories are flooding in and as the night goes on and the decision to stop smoking looks increasingly ill-timed for a card-carrying alien of questionable politics, Jeremiah getting on that flight tomorrow starts to seem far from certain. Tonight, the only thing that’s certain is that you have to be very careful in the land of the free.
Set in an unnamed place that appears to be under military rule, this novel comprises of various ‘transcribed and/or translated’ first-hand narratives of non-English speakers, reminiscent of accounts of incidents in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and even the Cultural Revolution in China. The fragmented, dream-like episodes and the broken elegance of the language make Translated Accounts a powerful and disconcerting read.
One Sunday morning in Glasgow, shoplifting ex-con Sammy awakens in an alley, wearing another man’s shoes and trying to remember his two-day drinking binge. He gets in a scrap with some soldiers and revives in a jail cell, badly beaten and, he slowly discovers, completely blind. And things get worse: his girlfriend disappears, the police question him for a crime they won’t name, and his stab at disability compensation embroils him in the Kafkaesque red tape of the welfare bureaucracy. Told in the uncensored language of Glasgow, this is a dark and subtly political parable of struggle and survival, rich with irony and black humor.
Tammas is 20, a loner and a compulsive gambler. Unable to hold a job for long, his life revolves around Glasgow bars, home with his sister and brother-in-law, the dog track, betting shops, casinos and occasionally a day at the races. Sometimes Tammas wins, more often he loses, but betting gives him as good a chance as any of discovering what he really seeks from life since society offers him no prospect of a better or more fulfilling alternative. First published by Polygon in 1985.
Living in a bedsit, just coping with the boredom of being a busconductor, and fully aware that his plans to emigrate to Australia won’t come to anything, Robert Hines is a young Glaswegian leading a pretty drab life. There are compensations, however, in his wife and child, and his eccentric, anarchic imagination. Kelman provides a brilliantly executed, uncompromising slice of Glasgow life – an intelligent, funny and humane novel. It was first published by Polygon in 1984.