Strength of Island literature highlighted ahead of Faclan

To find out about the full Faclan programme pick up a brochure from An Lanntair.
To find out about the full Faclan programme pick up a brochure from An Lanntair.

Acclaimed Lewis writer Kevin MacNeil has spoken of his belief that island literature is on a massive upswing, ahead of his appearance at the Hebridean Book Festival, Faclan, next month.

Kevin will be giving a talk based on his latest book, The Beautiful and Forever, as part of a cabaret night featuring another two island writers, and will then be help bring the festival to a close as part of a new musical collective with Willie Campbell and Colin Macleod.

Faclan, which features film, the visual arts, talks and music as well as books, is officially on from Wednesday, November 2 to Saturday, November 5, and this year’s theme is the North Atlantic, or An Cuan Siar (The Western Sea) in Gaelic. “It defines the islands and signifies vastness and isolation”, said founding director Roddy Murray, who is Head of Visual Arts and Literature at An Lanntair and programmes the event.

For Kevin MacNeil, a Stornoway cove as well as multi-award winning poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and editor, the town “is and always will be home” — and he’s very much looking forward to appearing at its literary festival.

He said: “I believe we’re entering a golden age for Scottish island literature. I edited a book a few years ago called These Islands, We Sing, which was an anthology of poems from the islands. At the time I predicted a resurgence in island prose — and that is indeed happening, with the recent success of books by Amy Liptrot (Orkney) and Malachy Tallack (Shetland) being good examples.” Kevin’s talk has been sponsored by the Royal Literary Fund and he said he felt “truly honoured” to be delivering it.

“The RLF was founded in 1790 and has offered all kinds of assistance to writers and their families, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, James Joyce, and the widow of Robert Burns.

“At a time when literature can seem devalued in society it is terrific that an organisation like the RLF provides humane and practical support.”

Kevin is on stage at 7pm and is followed by Iain Stephen, also from Lewis, who will be reading from his poetry anthology Maritime, with musical accompaniment from Peter Urpeth and Gary Carr.

Then comes Malachy Tallack, with his new book, The Undiscovered Islands.

Kevin will also appear at Faclan again on the Saturday night as part of Akutagawa, with singer-songwriters Willie and Colin.

To find out more about the Faclan festival pick up a brochure from An Lanntair or browse online at