Sparking with wit, compellingly experimental and always packed with heart, Ali Smith’s writing is a joy and the release of Spring this year has served as a reminder that she’s a writer at the peak of her power. Her back catalogue is a feast of short story collections and novels, including the stunning How to Be Both, which won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year award, the lauded Hotel World and many more. Like many of our best writers, Smith refuses to be categorised. She dips in and out of styles and word experiments, leading the reader into alternate worlds where time and the stories that describe it don’t have to be linear. Our understanding is paramount but the telling can afford to be playful.

Currently, Smith is three quarters of the way through a stunning Seasonal Quartet of novels dealing with very contemporary times. The first, Autumn, was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Winter came next and this year, we were treated to Spring. The exceptional series will conclude in 2020 with Summer. Initially, Smith intended the quartet to follow

a pastoral vein but as she began writing in 2015, the inescapable concept of ‘Brexit’ was coalesced and exerted its influence on her work. Yet for all of its modern references and relevance, the series could be a retelling of a classic myth. As Smith points out, what is happening to us now has all happened before.

It is the power of stories, the retelling, rescoping and reshaping our understanding of what has once been that offers us something to hold on to in uncertain times. With Spring’s blossoming in 2019, Smith shows us that fiction is in good hands and that we’ve got even more to look forward to in the year ahead. (LM)

independent bookshop is soon to be a favourite spot for book lovers in Edinburgh and further afield, as is the new but already bustling Portobello Bookshop. For multi-disciplinary artist Tommy Perman, 2019 has been very fruitful, thanks in part to some terrific work at Dundee Design Festival and Emergent Slow Arcs, his re-imagining of Modern Studies’ 2018 album Welcome Strangers, which was praised for its enchanting and mystical qualities. Comic creators Dave Cook and Craig Paton will soon be releasing the second in their award-winning and electrifying cyberpunk series Killtopia, and elsewhere, self-proclaimed ‘drag clowns’ Kirsty Biff and Annabel Cooper aka Oasissy will no doubt keep entertaining and bemusing in equal measure with their madcap tribute to the Gallagher brothers. Female-led Glasgow production company

Barry Crerar present an interesting new wave of Scottish filmmaking, with their first feature RUN screening at both Tribeca and the BFI London Film Festival. Also in the world of film, James Price is a bold new director whose first short Concrete and Flowers was shown on the new BBC Scotland TV programme Next Big Thing. And new feminist film festival Femspectives had a deservedly successful inaugaral year in 2019 with their small but mighty programme.

P L E N T Y I N 2 0

With huge amounts of talent across Scotland in every genre, it’s inevitable that there are omissions across the Hot 100 every year. Arusa Qureshi gives a shout out to some folks whose work is very much on our radar for next year

We’re big fans of Savage Mansion, aka Glasgow- based singer and guitarist Craig Angus and friends, whose brilliant debut album Revision Ballads was released earlier this year on Lost Map Records. Another Lost Map hero, Romeo Taylor (alter ego of former Savage Mansion drummer Taylor Stewart) has charmed audiences with his bizarre yet wonderful live presence and anthem-in-the-making ‘The Kingdom of Scotland’. We’re also looking forward to seeing what Glasgow ‘sophisti-pop’ duo The Lawnmower have in the works for 2020. Still in Glasgow, Cloth have already impressed the likes of Vic Galloway, Huw Stephens and Tom Robinson, and with their debut album due in mid-November, the plaudits are certainly likely to continue for the trio.

German-Scottish duo LUNIR recently returned with their infectious new single ‘Cubs’, and we’re also excited to hear more of pop performer Scarlett Randle, singer-songwriter Zoe Graham (whose new single is out in

40 THE LIST 1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020


November), electronic pop artist and producer Wuh Oh, and The Honey Farm rapper Bee Asha Singh following her appearance in powerful documentary Spit it Out. Glasgow producer North Sea Dialect released his lush and ambient debut album Local Guide late last year on Numbers, and Edinburgh’s Paradise Palms Records have also had some excellent releases this year, including those by Maranta and Kiwi. The newly opened Topping & Company