Donald Murray’s tales are well read Herrings

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Much-loved writer Donald S. Murray, whose books celebrate the rich heritage of the Western Isles, has been chosen as one of few authors to join a Scottish delegation showcasing Scots writing at the Pisa Book festival in Italy.

Donald will travel with the delegation to Pisa where he will join other established authors.

Murray, whose most recent book Herring Tales was published this year by Bloomsbury, is one of eight Scottish writers, including James Robertson, William MacIlvanny and Jenni Fagan who will be featured at the Italian book festival as part of the festival’s “Focus Scozia”.

“The festival is the largest outside of the Edinburgh Book Festival and so it’s a big event and I’m happy to be attending”, says Donald, who was an English teacher for 21 years.

Mr Murray will be at the festival in Pisa from 6-8 November, and he will read selections from his books.

This latest accolade - being chosen to represent Scottish authors - sees him in good company. Murray will join the eminent Scottish crime writer William McIlvanney, whose Laidlaw and The Big Man brought the nation’s crime writing into a new era.

“I hold a lot of admiration for McIlvanney”, says Murray, “and it was he and James Robertson, a friend for a long time, whose example has spurred me on.”

“I wasn’t expecting to be going to this book festival but I think it could be a good indication of the strength of the book.”

The book that will feature heavily in Donald’s appearance in Pisa is Herring Tales, the story of the fish’s role in Western Isles heritage.

The book has been described as an incredible tale about fishing heritage across Norway, the Baltics, Iceland, and Scotland.

Donald Murray is looking forward to giving a talk at the festival alongside Joseph Farrell, who is the head of the Scottish delegation to the festival. One of the other books he’ll be talking about is ‘Weaving Songs’ which features poems inspired both by Gaelic music and Harris Tweed.

Murray will then participate in a reading of Gaelic in the company of writer Ghjacumu Thiers. A fluent speaker of Gaelic, Murray’s book Small Expectations explored bilingualism in both celebration of its legacy and lament at the possibility of Gaelic’s

“I’m very familiar with Italy and I’m looking forward to hearing the Tuscany bagpipes”, he said.

Murray now lives in Shetland but tries to return to the Western Isles whenever he can. Italy may hold an exotic attraction but the gritty and rugged coasts of the Hebrides are where his heart is set not to mention many books.

Murray said: “The Western Isles are as much a part of who I am as they are part of my books.”

Pictured is Donald S. Murray who is excited to be heading to Pisa.