The Herald (Glasgow): “What have the great and the good been reading in 2017?”

Jenny Niven, head of literature, Creative Scotland

Between Trump and everything else I wouldn’t have got through 2017 without Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark (Canongate) which I have in recent months sometimes found myself clutching like a flotation device. The Mother of All Questions (Granta) is a welcome follow up to that and convinces that feminism is still as fierce and relevant as ever, despite, well, the world.

Bloody Scotland (Historic Environment Scotland) was a brilliant publication capturing the unstoppable Scottish crime fiction scene in all its murderous glory via 12 short stories from writers including Val McDermid, Louise Welsh and Denise Mina, and an astute publishing move from the festival.

I read Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko (Head of Zeus) this year while in Korea which brought my surroundings and contemporary politics vividly to life via a four-generational family saga. A pilgrimage to Muriel Spark’s home in Tuscany, ahead of the forthcoming centenary celebrations of 2018, led me to Loitering with Intent for the first time too, a novel which on its own in my view makes the justification for a whole year of Muriel Spark 100.

Ali Smith’s Autumn (Hamish Hamilton 16.99) is a luminous book and is my favourite type of writing, which is to say simultaneously a beautifully constructed fictional exploration and wisely observed social critique.

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