Kelman and LKJ speak out for black writers
Black writers like Victor Headley. whose debut novel Yardr'e chronicled the violent life of a West Indian gangster in London. have become fashionable in much the same way as young Scottish writers like Irvine Welsh. But according to James Kelman. who is organising a black authors book fair in Glasgow. there are many talented writers who are still being marginalised.
For Kelman the thing which unites radical writers from Shawﬁeld to Soweto. is trying to fmd a way of writing in their own language. This was the point Kelman was trying to make in his truncated Booker acceptance speech. ‘There’s a pressure to make work available to a wider audience. to get rid ofthe “local” voice.‘ he says.
The Radical. Black and Third World Book Fair. which returns to Glasgow for a second time. is based on a similar event that has been rtrrming in London since 1982. Writers who will be giving readings include Linton Kwesi Johnson. Earl Lovelace and Margaret Busby.
When organiser John La Rose first met Kelman he realised there was a connection between the experiences of black and Scottish writers. The pair decided to bring the fair to Glasgow for the first time in I993.
‘There‘s a strong tradition of orality.‘ says La Rose. ‘People talk a lot in the Caribbean and they do that in Scotland too. It‘s important to make that connection with oralin in the literature.‘
La Rose started publishing black literature in London in the ()(Is as part of the Caribbean Artists Movement. More recently mainstream publishers have picked up on radical black writers on the back of internationally successful authors like Maya Angelou. However most of the books La Rose publishes through his New Beacon company are never reviewed. and many are sold abroad.
Dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. who found fame in the 70s through the link
between punk and reggae. is coming to Glasgow to open the event. ‘As l see it this is a unique forum where people can have access to radical black liter'attit'e.' he says. ‘I don‘t see any other forums where writers as diverse as this can get together. It's great to see people branching otrt so we don't have to depend on mainstream publishers.‘ Although the majority of the invited guests are writers. the book fair will also look at the wider political context ofthe authors' work. Debates include racist violence. censorship and fundamentalism. ()ne of the most ambitious sessions is on industrial injuries which will draw parallels
linton Kwesi Johnson in dub: ‘unique forum tor radical black Iiterature'
between the thousands who died in the Bhopal chemical disaster and Scottish factory workers suffering from asbestos-related illness. ‘You can't separate literature from politics.‘ says Kelman. ‘What's missing so often is the broader context.‘ (Eddie Gibb)
The Second Seoltis/r Book Fair of Radical Blaek and Third World Books isfrom Friday 3/ itIare/r—Sronlay 2 April at I’artiek Burg/I Hall. Glasgott'. See Roek listings/or details oft/re Linton Kti'esi Jo/rnson gig. l’io't/rer bookfair detai/s on 0/4] 22/ 6380. New Beaeon Books is on ()I 7/ 272 4889.
OJ attorney favours Scots legal system
Alan Dershow itz. a lawyer for ().J. } Simpson‘s defence. is reputed to have been offered $2. million to join the i ‘drcam team’. btrt he still has a hankering to appear in a Scottish High Court. The reason? ()ur ‘not proven‘ verdict. which offers juries an alternative to ‘guilty‘ and ‘not guilty".
Sir Walter Scott farnotrsly described it as ‘that bastard verdict'. btrt Der'showitl. doesn't agree. ‘I love that verdict.’ he says. ‘It‘s exactly what the American system should move towards. When sorncbody's found not guilty in the United States. he is found to be not guilty. ()ften he is innocent. often he is guilty — the case jtrst wasn't proven.
‘I think the only thing our legal system is capable of doing is concluding whether or not guilt was proven. The law is not concerned with innocence. the law is concerned only with proving guilt or unproving guilt.‘
This bleak view ofjustice is offered
Pat Kane: 'Dershowitz is sharp. but morally
vacuous’ during Pat Kane's investigation of the American legal system . ‘So Stre Me'. as part of Radio Scotland‘s Kane ()rer Amerira series. Kane visited the media village that has sprouted tip around the
Los Angeles courtroom. where he caught up with the celebrity lawyer'- ttrrned-tlu'iller writer who has previously defended (‘laus yon Btrlow and Mike Tyson. ‘lle plays the American justice system for all it‘s worth on behalf of his clients.‘ says Kane. ‘lle saw the “not proven" verdict as perfect. particularly in the 0.]. case.‘
Kane’s conclusion about ().J. mania is that it is symptomatic of the way the law has replaced religion and culture as the binding agent of American society. "The Americans hold on to law as a reminder ofthe violence that shaped their society.‘ says Kane. ‘I)ershowit/. is a legal fundamentalist. I‘ve never met someone who's so bright and sharp. btrt at heart is morally vactrous.‘ (Eddie Gibb)
Kane ()t‘er America eon/mites on ll'edIIesddV 2‘) Mare/I at (1/5,)!!! on BBC Radio .S'eolland wit/r '.S'o Sue Me '.
I Scots abroad John Hannah. who shot to fame as Simon Callow‘s lover in Four It’d/dings and a Funeral. has been conﬁrmed as the lead in a new Scottish Television drama. McCallum. Scottish will be filming a feature-length pilot later this year. with Hannah playing a forensic scientist based in London‘s east end. The story is by Yirggari writer Stuart Hepburn and Scottish is talking to network bosses about a possible series. The company has been looking for another major drama for sometime. particularly since "the death of 'Iirggart star Mark McManus. The decision to set Mi'Cal/ion in London was partly to show the company was not only about ‘Scottish’ stories such as Doctor Finlay. according to a spokesman.
I tie a tartan ribbon Edinburgh AIDS charity the Waverley Care Trust is holding a collection week using the tartan awareness ribbon to raise funds for its two main projects. SOLAS and Milestone House. SOLAS is an information and counselling service for people with HIV and their families. while Milestone House is Scotland‘s only hospice for people with HIV. The Waverley Care week rtrns from l-8 April and the trust can be contacted on 0131 556 3959.
I Prized artist Painter Jenny Saville. who uses herself as the model for her huge ntrdes. picked up a check for
ii I 2.000 when she won the Glasgow Lord Provost‘s Prize for her painting Plan. The prize is awarded annually after a public vote. This year Saville heat off five others on an shortlist which included Ken Currie. John Byrne and William Crozier. Saville said she intends to spend the money on huge sheets of glass fora three-dimensional project she is working on.
I Cup comeback The Scottish Cup is visiting Edinburgh for the first time since Hearts won it in I956. The cup returns to the city as part of an exhibition marking the centenary of St Bernard's FC‘s etrp win in 1895. The exhibition is at the Central Library. George IV Bridge from 28 March—5 May.
I Orkney drama Families involved in the ()rkney child abuse allegations are considering legal action to stop the production of a BBC television about sextral abuse. Filming on l'lUIt‘t’I'S of the l’oresl by Michael Eaton is due to start this summer. Eaton. whose Signs and ll’onders about a young girl in an American religious cult was screened earlier this year. spent some time researching the ()rkney case. btrt the story is not based on a single family.
I Cities as art Giant Kalashnikov rillcs and the adaptation of ‘Tardis' police boxes into pollution monitoring trnits are among the Scottish Sculpture Trust‘s proposals for turning cities into works of art. The ideas form part of a long-term scheme to integrate art and the urban environment. An exhibition of some of the proposals is at the Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh until Sunday 2 April.
4 The List 24 Mar-6 Apr I995