Lewis authors amongst Ullapool Book Festival’s guests

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Ullapool Book Festival has announced the names of the writers who will be guests at its 12th festival that will be held from Friday, May 6th to Sunday, May 8th in Ullapool Village Hall.

There are two Lewis authors in the line up. Norma MacLeod, who lives in Shawbost, has written four Gaelic novels, the first three being a trilogy.

Her latest novel An Dosan won the Donald Meek award in 2014 and was shortlisted for a Saltire award in 2015.

Her novels are set in Lewis and deal with discord, reparation and guilt with a touch of humour, highlighted through the family dynamics of her characters, thus giving the reader an opportunity to identify with their plight.

Her writing has been described as talented, attractive and spare, easily readable and absorbed, although it deals with deeply personal issues in the latent quest for meaning in family and community life.

The other Lewis writer is Kevin MacNeil who now lives in London.

He has won numerous literary awards, performed internationally, and taught creative writing at universities such as Edinburgh, Kingston and Uppsala.

His new book is a novel entitled The Brilliant & Forever and features a talking alpaca as one of its main characters.

It has been described as ‘Laugh-out-loud funny. It’s so refreshing to read a book that isn’t like anything else.’

MacNeil is also a poet, screenwriter, editor and lyricist. His publications include Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides, The Stornoway Way, These Islands We Sing and A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde.

This year’s Canadian authors are Lynn Coady and Lisa Moore. Lynn Coady’s short story collection Hellgoing won the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Lisa Moore’s novel February was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and won CBC Canada Reads in 2013.

Fiction abounds this year. The festival’s first guest, back in 2005, was Janice Galloway and they are delighted to welcome her back this year with her latest book, Jellyfish, which is a return to short stories after some years.

Festival audience favourite Bernard MacLaverty also makes a welcome return.

There will be best selling thriller writers Helen Fitzgerald and Doug Johnstone.

Then there is J. David Simons, Scottish-born author of several novels and short stories whose first two novels are based in Glasgow’s Jewish community in the 1920s,

He has also written about contemporary and 1950s Japan in his best-selling novel An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful.

Finally for fiction they have two debut novelists – Merryn Glover and Fiona Rintoul.

Merryn’s novel A House called Askival is set in northern India and the story stretches from Partition to the modern day.

Fiona Rintoul’s The Leipzig Affair, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was serialised on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime.

Two of Scotland’s major awarding-winning poets will be appearing at Ullapool for the first time.

Tom Pow whose latest collection At The Well of Love, poems written while a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellow last year, is due to appear in February; and Jim Carruth whose words have been etched in stone as part of the Kelpies project.

He is artistic adviser at StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival and was appointed Glasgow poet laureate in July 201.4

Once again there will be a session in Gaelic using simultaneous translation. The authors are Màrtainn Mac an t-Saoir / Martin Macintyre and Norma MacLeod.

Martin Macintyre is an acclaimed author, bàrd and storyteller and his latest collection, was shortlisted for The Saltire Literary Book of The Year in 2014.

The non fiction writers and their books range far and wide in subject and geography. Malachy Tallack’s travelogue Sixty Degrees North was a Book of the Week on Radio 4.

James Hunter is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) where, between 2005 and 2010, he was director of the UHI Centre for History.

His new book, Set Adrift Upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances, was published in 2015. Penny Johnson is an associate editor of the Jerusalem Quarterly where she also contributes occasional reviews and essays.

Raja Shehadeh is a writer and lawyer and his books include Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape, for which he won the 2008 Orwell Prize for Political Writing.

His most recent book is Shifting Sands, The Unravelling of the Old Order in the Middle East which he co-edited with Penny Johnson.

Professor Avi Shlaim is an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College and Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford.

He held a British Academy Research Professorship in 2003-6 and he was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2006. He was a contributor to Johnson’s and Shehadeh’s Shifting Sands and the three of them will share a stage.

Also taking part in the festival in a free half hour lunchtime session will be the legendary Norman Maclean.

In Eavesdropping on Myself he chronicles his boyhood in Glasgow and explores the push-pull of two cultures: working-class Glaswegian and first-generation Hebridean.

The full programme will be published in late March when tickets will go on sale.

Pictured is Lewis writer Kevin MacNeil, who will be appearing at the festival.