plot as with Nagaraj‘s musings on Life and his conversations with friends. All the characters have been shaped with great affection. from Nagaraj‘s loquacious journalist friend. Talkative Man. to his surly brother. Gopu.
R.K. Narayan knows how to bring out the humour in Indian life and thought and. in doing so. he draws in readers who might otherwise have found the culture mysterious and inaccessible. His style is clear. light and evocative. It‘s a long time since I enjoyed a book so much. (Miranda France)
In the Country ol Salvation Noel Virtue (Hutchinson £1 l .95) ‘Across the ranges cloud was heavy with threatened rain.‘ We follow Restel and (.‘ushla Bevan and their three sons northwards across the broad landscape of New Zealand in the fifties— the family led on by the increasingly shifiless Restel. hiding and destroying himself in the narrow rectitude of fundamentalist Christianity.
The cracks in the surface of ordinary family life have already opened. Early sexual experiments between the eldest son and youngest. best-loved son. horril'y and confuse. Inarticulate guilt and unyielding anger'widen the gulfs between them. as the slow rhythms ofthe novel's opening section quicken remorselessly into tragedy.
Although dominated by Restel‘s disgusted rage — sin can be beaten out with a leather strap and readings from the Bible — the novel‘s point of view derives from Cushla. whose fierce. anxious love for her sons saves her humanity in an arid marriage. but cannot save her family. or her younger son — whose growing awareness of his homosexuality leads to oppression and breakdown.
In this fine novel. Noel Virtue has rooted an intense examination of the dark personal tragedies ofone family in a background of New Zealand and its peoples. From this same source. the novel as it closes derives its hope. unreassuring and ambivalent: the love which survives tragedy 'the
touch of some unseen hand. in this country whose true children had named it Aorearoa. this Land of Abiding Light.’ (Louis Gillespie)
PERDN, ARGENTINA AND TRAGEDY
0n Heroes and Tombs Ernesto Sébato (Jonathan Cape £9.95) Ernesto Szibato‘s second novel. first published in 1961 in Argentina, has long been unavailable in this country. It is one of the major works of modern Latin-American fiction, 500 pages of nostalgia, sorrow and obsession.
Based on a real incident in Buenos Aircs in 1955. it is focused around the dramatic suicide of Alejandra. the daughter ofa crumbling. aristocratic family.
Si’ibato‘s project is the exploration ofthe Argentine condition. both specifically under I’eronism and generally. through its complex cultural inheritance and bloody history. Alejandra. mysterious and deeply troubled. dominated by an evil and obsessive father. is a symbol of her homeland: a land which is ‘neither Europe nor America: but a region of faults and fractures. an unstable. tragic. turbulent area where everything cracks apart and is ripped asunder.‘
()rr Heroes and Tombs is a work of memory and loss. of lives swamped by recollection and regret. At its core lies the enigma ofviolence and heroism. When Alejandra murders her father. and consigns herselfto death by fire. a nation's cruel and tragic history is illuminated by the ﬂames. (MoiraJeffrey)
POLITICS THEDRETIC PATRIOTISM
Scottish Nationalism at the Crossroads Roger Levy (Scottish Academic Press £8.75) A recent history of the SNP is a good subject for a book. Indeed. you could say that Roger Levy — lecturer in Public Administration at Glasgow College ofTechnology — has written a worthy chronicle of the SNP‘s fortunes since it escaped marginal status in the late 1960s. What isn‘t so worthy is the
PET PR ivecr
You don't have to be a Sock Shop shareholder to know there's a retail recession: on recent weekdays, Argyle Street has been as quiet as a country lane. Bookselling, too, has telt the pinch: income is down, and, with interest charges going through the root, lew shops can aliord to stock titles which don't move quickly oil the shelves.
Given this state ol aiiairs, anyone setting up as an independent publisher must be either dangerously ignorant ol the industry, orvery sure oi their own abilities. Dog 3. Bone, a new Glasgow-based book design, typesetting and publishing tirm, know which category they lit into. ‘We started all just doing typesetting tor other people,’ says Donald Goodbrand Saunders, the tirm’s design technician and typesetter, whose own volume oi poems, Flndrinny, will be among the lirst batch oi books published by the new imprint. ‘We’re a group at lriends tamiliarwlth the publishing world, and just thought we'd like to do it ourselves.’
Despite that lamillarlty, Saunders is realistic about the venture, describing it as ‘a leap in the dark. We’re not out to become millionaires or anything like that. We're not greatly committed to anything beyond just surviving tor the tlrstyearorso.’
Their lirst, disparate list at live titles seems guaranteed to meet that
objective. As well as Findrlnny, it includes Wilma Paterson's Regency cookery book Lord Byron's Relish, Christopher Boyce's thriller Bloodlng Mister Naylor, Archie Roy’s A Sense Oi Something Strange, which investigates paranormal phenomena, and, undoubtedly the most eagerly awaited, McGrotty and Ludmilla, a political comedy by AlasdairGray.
For Gray, who will also have books published this year by Cape and Canongate, the desire tor artistic control over his own work was the reason lor setting up independently. Both Cape and Canongate were happy to let him design his own books, ‘butl knew this would be a long and inconvenient process, since they would be handing on my instructions to typesetting firms which contained their own quite lengthy chains at command. lmourniully mentioned to my lriend Angela Mullane that I wished I had the use at desktop technology. since it would allow me to get what I wanted with the help at one skilled triendl could talkto.’ Mullane then suggested the iormation ot a iirm who would not only typeset, but also publish on their own account.
That the lirm‘s lirst titles are all by Glasgow writers is described by Saunders as ‘coincidental, ii ieiicitous', although he is keen to stress that the business ‘is not tunded by, advertised by, or connected with oliicial bodies promoting Glasgow as a culture capital'. There are no apologies, either, lorthe tact that all but the cookery book are by members at the firm. ‘We are all published writers, which should exempt us lrom the suspicion of being a vanity press. Our Autumn list will have none at us in it at all.‘
Saunders’ delensiveness is understandable. Yet, in terms at public interest, Gray is undoubtedly the key name, and the likes ol Archie Roy are well known, in Scotland at least. One feels that only when Dog & Bone start publishing unknown authors will their business acumen really be tested. (Stuart Bathgate)
Findrinny, Lord Byron’s Relish. Blooding Mister Naylor, and McGrotty and Ludmilla are published by Dog & Bone on 5 April. A Sense 0i Something Strange iollows on1 May.
Please telephone If you wish to reserve signed cop/es i
reading from his new book
(Seeker and Warburg £12.95)
at 6.30pm on Thursday 15 March
In John Smith 8: Son,
252 Byres Road, Glasgow, 041 334 2769
#J The List 9- 22 March 199083