Putting debut authors under the microscope. This issue: Denise Mina
Who she? Denise Mina. When not teaching Criminology and Criminal Law at Glasgow University, she’s writing comedy for the Beeb or dealing with child abuse and decapitation in her more serious fiction.
Her debut It’s called Garnethi/l and, although billed as ’a breathtaking and compelling piece of crime fiction’, it’s more of a journey into one woman’s troubled psyche.
Basically Basically, it’s a gritty, grisly whodunnit set in a recognisable Glasgow. When a man is killed, his mistress, a former mental patient, becomes the prime suspect. Meanwhile, she begins an investigation of her own which finds her questioning her sanity and risking her life.
Why will I enjoy it? Because it's a thoroughly gripping tale, which will have you cheering as supposed ’Victims of sooety' get mad, get tooled up and get even Plus, if you live in the Weej, you'll have fun spotting flimSIIy disguised cafes and the like.
First line test ‘Maureen dried her eyes impatiently, lit a cigarette, walked over to the bedroom Window, and threw open the heavy red curtains ’ Trust us, : chapter two is worth staying awake
I for. Cast Maureen O'Donnell — former mentalist turned super-sleuth, Douglas - psychiatrist and murder Victim; Leslie ~ hard-drinking feminist; Winnie — alcoholic mother, Joe McEwan — a prick of a cop
Laugh ratio Through the tears.
j Headless corpses and catatonic rape
Victims don't make for big laughs.
For whom the book is credited ’To my mum, Edith’.
Denise Mina And Nicola Williams - The Real Thing. Post Office Theatre, 25 Aug, 5pm. £6 (£4).
EVENTS FOR CHILDREN Joan Lingard
It is over 25 years since Joan Lingard created her star-crossed Belfast lovers, Catholic Kevin and Protestant Sadie. The Twelfth Day Of July was one of the first novels ever written about The Troubles, followed by international critical acclaim, and four more Kevin and Sadie books that enthralled a generation of young readers.
With her new novel Dark Shadows, Lingard has returned to the subject matter that made her name. The plot concerns two cousins who meet for the first time by chance and defy the religious feud that has divided their families. ’In a way, lwas imagining what might have happened if Kevin and Sadie had had children, but using different characters.’ In the course of her research, she interviewed groups of Belfast teenagers and she is now tentatively optimistic about the situation. ’Politicians can pronounce, but the peeple have to create change themselves — hope lies with the young. It may not be plain sailing, but more and more people are rejecting violence.’ (Hannah McGill)
a Joan Lingard (Events For Children) Studio Theatre, 22 Aug, 7.45pm, £3.
LUNCHTIME READING/FATHERHOOD Douglas Kennedy
After a hand-to-mouth eXistence as a freelance writer, Douglas Kennedy turned to fiction because, as he says himself, ’there wasn’t enough serious commercial fiction and I wanted to see if I could do better.’
The public has obvrously decided that he could. He’s just sold the film rights for his last book, The Big Picture, and his new novel The Job, the tale of a man turning to crime after being ’downsized’, seems to be domg just as well. ’It deals with how we live in an age of Social Darwinism,’ Kennedy explains. ’It's getting desperately brutal in the States. You’re never more than three paycheques away from the street.’
But it's also an attempt to continue to write thrillers that don’t insult the reader’s intelligence. ’There are two kinds of popular novel. One has lines in it like, “Jack knew how to defuse a nuclear bomb", and the other goes, "after the blowjob, Ivan took Lucretia shopping”. I wanted to get away from all that.’ (Brendan Wallace)
a Doug/as Kennedy And Michael Marsha/l Smith (Lunchtime Reading) Studio Theatre, 27 Aug, 72.75pm, £5 (E 3). Price includes a soft drink and a sandwich.
ﬂ Douglas Kennedy And Mike Phi/lips (Fatherhood) Studio Theatre, 27 Aug, 2.15pm, £6 (£4).
LUNCHTIME READING Alice Thompson ’Noah is everyman. He’s not any worse
or any better.’ So Alice Thompson defines the central character in her
CONTEMPORARY FlCTION Ben Okri
Ben Okri: lean and hungry
Ben Okri first invaded the public consciousness in 1991, when his epic novel The Famished Road won the Booker Prize. He is now one of Africa's most prolific writers and an ardent supporter of anti-oppression groups. Nigerianoborn Okri spent the first seven years of his life in South London, returning to his motheriand in 1967 just before the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War. He dislikes giving details about his influential childhood, claiming that his formative years are best expiored through his fiction.
At the Post Office Theatre, Okri will be reading from his latest work Infinite Riches. the third part of The Famished Road cycle. He wili also be discussing the creative process, triggered for him by avid reading of myth, folklore and Western classics. This oxymoronic influence is heavily evident in his work, and has been mistaken by many for magic realism in the same vein as Garcia Marquez. Okri himself rejects this interpretation, saying that the 'fantasy’ in his writing is reality in Africa -— it's the spirit and the multio faceted realism of a different world view.
Western history has tried to oppress Africa for years. Now it seems Western interpretation is doing the same. Maybe we should listen to the
words of the master. (Nicky Agate)
3 Ben Okri, Post Office Theatre, 23 Aug, 7pm, f 7 (£5).
latest novel, Pandora’s Box. Formed from one sentence and through seven drafts comes a murder mystery in which Dr Noah finds, heals and marries the mysterious Pandora. She is murdered and her body disappears — then the search begins.
This is, however, a novel by Alice Thompson, so the layers run far deeper than that. Her readingat the Book Festival, alongside fellow James Tait Black Memorial Award Winner Andrew Miller, should stimulate much
discussion about her book and the intellectual ideas surrounding it. 'I am hoping for many interesting queshons,’ she states. 'I feel that my writing is challenging in many ways and hopefully people at the reading will have questions for discussion not only about my book but literature as well.’ (Simone Baird)
a Alice Thompson & Andrew Miller, Studio Theatre, 22 Aug, 12. 75pm, £5 (£3). Price includes a soft drink and a sandwich
20—27 Aug I998 riiE usrar