Tag Archives: The Scottish Book

Divided City

Divided City is the book I missed six years ago when it was published. I kept meaning and meaning to read until time ran off elsewhere.

Theresa Breslin’s book popped back on my radar with it being turned into theatre, performed by school children from Glasgow, a couple of months ago, and I read it around the time of this year’s Orange walk, which is something I have always more or less avoided thinking about. I can do that because of where I live and because I’m not a Catholic. Now, though, it’s become rather more real for me.

Having recently read a number of books about friendships over some border other, this is particularly interesting in a way. To the innocent outsider, Glasgow is homogenous and I don’t see the difference between Protestants and Catholics. I know you have it in Ireland and I know about Celtic and Rangers. Don’t understand the deadly seriousness of a game of football.

That’s all changed now. Theresa’s story about two football-crazy Glasgow boys, one from each side, has taught me a thing or two. She included a ‘real’ foreigner by having a young refugee from the other side of Europe, who puts everything in perspective, and who is the catalyst for what happens. But, it’s the two sides of Glasgow that really matters.

I am clearly not totally useless, because I could tell from their names which boy was which ‘kind’. Graham is the better off financially, and he is considering going on the Orange walk with his grandfather. Joe leads a totally different life, with less money and less creature comforts at home. On the other hand he lives surrounded by a big and involved family, and he is anything but clueless.

Both boys are equally ‘prejudiced’ about the other side, but circumstance and football bring them together, and their refugee does the rest.

Glasgow comes off well in this tale, with lots of interesting people. And to begin with it felt easy ‘knowing’ what’s right and what’s less so. Only, it’s not that simple.

Had no idea Theresa knew so much about football, either. This was a good piece of education, on top of being a wonderful read. I loved those boys.

The Scottish Book

The year isn’t over yet, and my Foreign Reading Challenge certainly isn’t. But, in the interview with Julie Bertagna back in June, I suddenly got this great idea, and it won’t sit around and wait its turn.

Julie was saying how she went looking for Scottish books for the children she taught in school. They wanted to read about ‘themselves’, and she had no idea it was going to be almost impossible to find such books. As Julie said, Theresa Breslin had written one. And that was pretty much it.

So she wrote a book for ‘her’ children. And then she wrote a few more.

Now there are plenty more Scottish books, not only by Julie and Theresa, but by countless other Scottish authors. To the English it might seem unnecessary to have Scottish books, since they are all in the ‘same’ language and set on the same green island, but that’s far from true. Irish books are different from English ones, and there is no reason why there should be no need for Scottish books as well.

Scottish flag

I do read plenty of Scottish novels, but I see no harm in setting up a separate, personal challenge to find many more. If teachers can sit down and write books for their pupils, then I can have a blog challenge.

Here’s to The Scottish Book! And unlike with The Scottish Play, we can say MacBeth as much as we want to. Not that I want to. I’ll say MacBertagna! MacBreslin! And all the rest who I’m not listing in order to avoid forgetting to mention them.