Neil Oliver Scotland’s telly historian, dubbed by none other than AA Gill as ‘the male Joanna Lumley’ signs copies of A History of Ancient Britain. Waterstone’s, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Wed 28 Sep.

Wigtown Book Festival In the beautiful Dumfries & Galloway surroundings, the WBF brings together the diverse likes of Maggie O’Farrell, Toby Young, Elaine C Smith and Martin Bell. See feature, page 16. Various venues, Wigtown, Fri 23 Sep–Sun 2 Oct. Val McDermid The Fifer unleashes her 25th novel, The Retribution, in which an escaped serial killer plans horrible vengeance on DCI Carol Jordan and clinical psychologist Tony Hill. Waterstone’s, Glasgow, Thu 29 Sep.

Robert Harris The bestselling author lets rip with new novel The Fear Index, a contemporary thriller which tackles some pretty big questions. See review, page 43. Hutchinson.

Glasgow Poetry Week When is a week ten days long? When it’s Glasgow Poetry Week, which features a masquerade, a poetry bash in Pivo Pivo and much more. Various venues, Glasgow, Fri 30 Sep–Sun 9 Oct. Words The North Lanarkshire Festival of Books and Writing has a splendid line-up including Julian Baggini, Jane Harris and James Robertson. See preview, page 45. Various venues, North Lanarkshire, Mon 3–31Oct.

Susan Hill This writer certainly knows how to chill a reader’s bones and with the reissue of The Woman in Black, only the most cold- hearted will keep their blood temperature warm to middling. See review, page 43. Profile.

West Port Book Festival In the zone dubbed ‘Edinburgh’s Soho’ comes the small literary festival which celebrates an area of lovely second-hand bookshops. Various venues, Edinburgh, Thu 13–Sun 16 Oct.

Tariq Ali Never one to shirk a debate, firebrand Ali is here to muse upon the UK economy, Middle Eastern uprisings, European protests and the future of Scotland. Mitchell Library, Glasgow, Wed 19 Oct.

Christopher Hitchens The astute and wise chronicler of affairs both contemporary and historical publishes a stirring collection of essays and columns in Arguably. See review, page 43. Atlantic.

42 THE LIST 22 Sep–20 Oct 2011


Our debut author Q&As continue with HELEN GORDON, whose first book is about a London art magazine writer who returns to her suburban family household and confronts some difficult home truths

Give us five words to describe Landfall? Journalist falls off the edge.

Name one author who should be more famous than they are now? Penelope Fitzgerald, who died in 2000, remains sadly neglected by the book buying public. Her short novels, by turns funny and tragic, are strange, exquisite meditations ranging from tales of houseboats in the 1960s, to a novel about an 18th century German poet. What was the first book you read? At primary school I remember reading and re-reading Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword but the very first book was probably The Hungry Caterpillar.

Which book makes you cry? The last book that made me tearful was Chris Adrian’s The Great Night. There’s a heartbreaking moment involving the death of ‘Blankie’, a sort of living blanket/pet belonging to the king and queen of the fairies. It’s complicated. Otherwise, Katherine Mansfield wrote stories with unexpected endings that often leave you momentarily convinced that the world is dark, troubling and very, very sad.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today? Angela Carter, who died in 1992, would be 71 now. I’d love to know how the past 20 years would have appeared in her fiction and to hear her views on feminism in the new millennium. Which book makes you laugh? Most things by Lorrie Moore. She does humour with heavy doses of pathos and insight, and her characters have some of the best one-liners in contemporary fiction. (Interview by Brian Donaldson) Landfall is published by Fig Tree on Thu 6 Oct.