as the next bigot? Could be, if musician-turned- author
first novel is anything to go by. The man behind Long Fin Killie heads off on a violent, comic romp.
Words: Brian Donaldson
Photograph: Craig Sanders
LIFE/ART INTERFACE has served .. many a writer and Luke Sutherland
is no exception. His debut novel, Jelly Roll, follows a band of jazzmen - The Sunny Sunday Sextet — on tour in the most northerly parts of Scotland, detailing the
'l'd walk down a street and someone would shout "black bastard" at me. But if I was white and had dreadlocks a foot long, someone would shout something at me as well.’ Luke Sutherland
scrapes and scary characters encountered en route. In a previous life Sutherland - London born in 1970, but raised
by adopted parents in Blairgowrie via Humberside and Orkney — led the Pictish popsters Long Fin Killie. In a
Are Scots as racist
near-future one, he will release an album with new combo, Bows. Yet there's much more to it than an episodic tour de force. 'They do nine dates on this journey into the Highlands — like Dante’s rings of Hell,’ explains Sutherland. 'And the characters are based on sin, so you get Roddy who is really proud, Paddy who’s just a nutter and Liam who's envious of the ease with which everyone leads their lives.’
The title may make. you think of drugs and a similarly monikered trad jazzman but the complex allusions don't halt there. "‘Jelly" is US slang for genitalia, hinting at the misogyny in the book, and "roll"
indicates the circular structure,’ he continues. ’You've heard people say that what goes around comes around and we reap what we sow? Well, I believe that what goes around does come around, but it won't hit the person who committed the aggressive act in the first place but someone further down the chain. It's just
a trickle-down thing.’
Although Sutherland has been writing longer than he has been playing in bands, the novel's completion was speeded up during a period of
recuperation after a motor accident in Sweden in 1995. A couple of his scripts have been made into short films by young Scottish director Fraser MacDonald, and there is some talk of sticking Jelly Roll onto the big screen, which may force a wider audience to think again about Scots and the issue of
race. I ’There isn't that much of a black 5}; presence in Scotland, so there's an extent which it's just ignorance,’ Sutherland ieves. ’l'd walk down a street in a small own and someone would shout "black ,Qbastard” at me from a car. But if I was and had dreadlocks a foot long or fwas wearing weird clothes, someone would
Shout something at me as well. 'But there was an instance when we were E; g in a close in Hawick and we read that, after oved, a petition was drawn up to basically Turkish family from the close we lived in. ':.«no excuse for that, that is entirely racist. I ‘ 7 'fé‘nkVScotland is any more racist than anywhere 3 the myth that Scotland is not racist is just
‘ :p’ublished by Anchor, priced £6.99.