25 Scottish novels to look forward to in 2014 (adults)

Alan Warner by Murdo Macleod
Category: Reading

Blessed with a huge roll call of talented contemporary writers, Scotland's talent pool looks like bursting its banks in 2014.

Whether you view 2014 as an endless, cold sea to navigate, or a picturesque loch banked by possibilities, these 25 novels for adults by Scottish authors (or authors who have made the sensible decision to relocate to Scotland) should act as glittering waymarkers for the year ahead.

As our Buckhaven reading mural by the sea says, "Reading is a form of transport. Everyone is entitled to a travel pass. Gaun Yersel!"

Layla by Nina de la Mer


Nina De La Mer
Myriad Editions
February 2014

Myriad Editions is claiming Nina De La Mer’s new novel is a Bright Lights, Big City [Jay McInerney] for a modern day urban population seduced by celebrity, warped by pornography and fuelled by designer drinks and drugs. De La Mer’s novel of a lap-dancing London newcomer is told in the same pulsating second person narrative of Bright Lights and already counts The Herald and Alan Bissett as fans.

The Madness of July by James Naughtie

The Madness of July

James Naughtie
Head of Zeus
February 2014

Most famous for co-presenting Radio 4’s Today programme and his pronunciation of Jeremy Hunt, James Naughtie switches off the microphone and picks up the pen for this, his debut novel. Drawing on his intimate experience of politics on both sides of the pond, Naughtie has set his sophisticated thriller in mid-1970s Cold War London during an unusual heatwave.  

The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith

The Forever Girl

Alexander McCall Smith
February 2014

The beloved, bestselling author focuses on love in his latest novel. Growing up in a community of ex-pats on the Cayman Islands, Clover's love for her childhood sweetheart James is severely tested when Clover leaves for another paradise, Scotland, and James moves to England to attend boarding schools a border apart.

The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan

The Illuminations

Andrew O'Hagan
Faber & Faber
March 2014

The secrets we keep from the ones we love is a theme that runs through O'Hagan's fifth novel. An inter-generational tale of modern war, memory and the complications of fact it promises to add another tale of emotional depth to the twice Booker-nominated author's impressive catalogue.

The Dead Beat by Doug Johnstone

The Dead Beat

Doug Johnstone
Faber & Faber

March 2014

Anyone whose missed their bus stop or train staition to read 'just one more chapter' of Johnstone's addictive, previous fistful of novels will be chomping at the bit to devour his sixth, The Dead Beat, this spring. When a tragedy reawakens journalist Martha's past, she sets of on a frantic search around modern Edinburgh for answers of what fate befell her parents in the alternative music scene of the early nineties.

All the Rage by AL Kennedy

All the Rage

AL Kennedy
Random House
March 2014

One of Scotland's most productive writers, A. L. Kennedy has twice been selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists (1993, 2003) and shows no sign of slowing down. Her latest book is a collection of short stories set in the battlefield of the heart where some characters emerge stronger from the fight, and some picking at their battle scars forever more.


Descent by Ken MacLeod


Ken MacLeod
March 2014

Ryan sees something fall from the sky near his small Scottish town yet in a world of CCTV no evidence of it exists. Who is creating the cover up? The latest novel from one of the leading lights of Scotland's sci-fi scene promises to merge the hard science fiction and politics for which he's famous.

Listen to Ken discuss Iain Banks final book, The Quarry.


The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales

Kirsty Logan
March 2014

Kirsty Logan's (a former New Writer Awardee) hotly anticipated collection of 20 classic tale retellings and modern-day fables arrives from the uber-cool presses of Salt this March. Named as a Canongate future 40, and the winner of the inaugural Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship, Logan's star keeps rising and this could be her biggest year yet. Read Kirsty's Reading Confessions here.

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle

Kirsty Wark
Hodder & Stoughton
March 2014

Kirsty Wark is one of Scotland's best known journalists, broadcasters and writers. In this, her debut novel, she tells the tale of 90-year old Elizabeth Pringle who bequeaths her Arran home to a stranger - an unfulfilled thirtysomething journalist called Martha. Only then, through Martha's eyes, does the true, heartbreaking story of Elizabeth's life begin to unfold.

A lovely way to burn by Louise Welsh

A Lovely Way to Burn (Plague Times Trilogy 1)

Louise Welsh
John Murray
March 2014

In a London gripped by a global pandemic called 'The Sweats' it doesn't look like murder. However, Stevie Flint is convinced the death of her boyfriend was not from natural causes. In urban streets thronged with panicked, fleeing Londonders, Stevie's search takes her in the opposite direction in this first part of a trilogy from The Cutting Room author.

Little Egypt by Lesley Glaister

Little Egypt

Lesley Glaister
March 2014

Somerset Maugham winner Lesley Glaister’s 12th novel took 20 years to come to fruition. Little Egypt is a now-derelict house trapped between road, rail and supermarket. Inside its walls live nonagenarian twins Iris and Osris. Their lives are petering out until a chance meeting opens up the fascinating history of their parents’ neglect and obsession with Howard Carter’s Egypt in the 1920s on the cusp of Western discovery.

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Northanger Abbey

Val McDermid
March 2014

When asked to rework Jane Austen's novel, and add a contemporary twist, Scottish crime-writer Val McDermid thought "I thought, me and Jane Austen? That's such a f**king natural pairing. But I'm absolutely delighted by the idea." McDermid promises to up Northanger's fear factor in this mouth-wateringly unusual marriage.

Read Val McDermid's list of 5 great picture books to share with your kids.

England Expects by Sara Sheridan

England Expects

Sara Sheridan
April 2014

Sara Sheridan’s third Mirabelle Bevan mystery is set in the 1953 heatwave and sees Mirabelle and Vesta set off on a breathless investigation that leads them through Brighton’s crumbling pavilion and Cambridge’s quads. Sheridan is obsessed with Britain in the immediate aftermath of WW2 and brilliantly brings the period to life in her books. Listen to her describe her research into the period in our Book Talk interview.

Indecent Acts by Nick Brooks

Indecent Acts

Nick Brooks
Frieght Books
April 2014

This “humour soaked book” is reported almost entirely in Grace’s tongue - a semi-illiterate 40-something mother from Drumchapel. Looking after her grandson, fearing for her drug-addicted daughter and worried about her son’s intention to join the army, Grace’s story is written in her “inimitable misspelt patois” and sounds like a heartwarming riot of a book.  

Gone Are the Leaves by Anne Donovan

Gone are the Leaves

Anne Donovan
April 2014

Anne Donovan’s tender portrayal of contemporary family life in Buddha Da earnt the author a special place in the heart of those who read it. In her third novel Donovan tells the tale of an unlikely friendship of a talented choir boy, Feilamort, and a young embroiderer's apprentice named Deirdre, forced to choose between a loveless marriage or a life of prayer and solitude.

Read Anne Donovan's selection of 5 books about the relationship between land and people.

Ghost Moon Ron Butlin

Ghost Moon

Ron Butlin
April 2014

Edinburgh’s Makar intertwines two narratives set in Scotland’s capital in his new novel Ghost Moon. Maggie is now in a care home, visited regularly by her son Tom. Shards of her harrowing youth poke through the fug of her dementia, including her estrangement from her family, in the 1950s, due to a scandalous pregnancy.

The Stillman by Tom McCulloch

The Stillman

Tom McCulloch
Sandstone Press
April 2014

The Dingwall-based publisher Sandstone Press already has two Man Booker longlistings under their belt this decade - a stunning achievement. In Tom McCulloch's debut about a stillman at a Highland distillery they have an intriguing premise. The book has been described by author James Robertson as containing "acute observation and wickedly black humour". One to watch?


A Colder War by Charles Cumming

A Colder War

Charles Cumming
April 2014

The Ayr-born author's new novel centres around an airborne tragedy. When MI6's most senior Middle East officer's plane hits the Adriatic, rogue spy Thomas Kell is sent to investigate. What he dredges up has serious repercussions for the cross-Atlantic intelligence community. The 2012 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award winner will no doubt serve up another nail biting treat for thriller fans.

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

Irvine Welsh
Jonathan Cape
May 2014

Irvine Welsh will follow up the celebration of Trainspotting being voted the favourite Scottish novel of the last 50 years with perhaps the most intriguing book title of the year. Welsh promises ‘swampy Floridian lesbian noir’, a foul-mouthed protagonist and lashings of depravity, sex and food in this examination of our obsessions with looks and lifestyle.

The Busker by Liam Murray Bell

The Busker

Liam Murray Bell
Myriad Editions
May 2014

Bell’s second novel tells the story of Rab Dillon who is tipped to become the next great protest singer (the clue's in the name). Rab is seduced by the bright lights of London and heads to the Big Smoke to record an album for the disenfranchised, dispossessed and disheartened. One year later Dillon's living on the streets in Brighton. Musos everywhere should enjoy this exposé of the music industry.

Blood Whispers by John Gordon Sinclair

Blood Whispers

John Gordon Sinclair
Faber & Faber
July 2014

Keira is an ice-cool criminal lawyer with a gift, not for lying, but for stylising the truth. Her hard won respect on the Glasgow crime scene is hewn from her ability to pick out a murderer from any line-up. The secret behind Keira's sixth sense? She murdered someone herself as a child. It all seems far removed from the halcyon days of youth in Gregory's Girl.


Thirst by Kerry Hudson


Kerry Hudson
Chatto & Windus
July 2014

A sparkling new face on the Scottish literary scene, Kerry Hudson‘s debut Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma might have been hard to fit in a tweet but it won her the Scottish First Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Her second novel details an unlikely, life-affirming relationship between an Englishman and Siberian woman whose troubled pasts may affect their already unlikely future together.

How to Be Both by Ali Smith

How to Be Both

Ali Smith
August 2014

Few writers experiment with language as successfully as Ali Smith. As yet details of the Inverness-born author's latest novel are hard to find. Highly acclaimed for The Accidental, Smith's Hotel World was recently nominated as one of the best Scottish books of the last 50 years and The Guardian named her last novel There But For The as one of best novels of 2011.

Their Lips Speak of Mischief by Alan Warner

Their Lips Speak of Mischief

Alan Warner
Faber & Faber
August 2014

Morvern Callar was recently voted as one of the 10 best Scottish books of the last 50 years in a worldwide poll. Its author will release his eighth book this year. Set in the 1980s it follows two hard-up writers struggling to get by in a shared Acton flat in London during Thatcher’s early doldrumic days.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

The Book of Strange New Things

Michel Faber
November 2014

Faber is expecting a busy year. Not only is Under the Skin making its way to the silver screen starring Scarlett Johansson, but the acclaimed author is releasing his first novel in over five years, concerning one man's perilous journey as a Christian missionary. Details of the book are a closely guarded secret but Cannongate's director Francis Bickmore claims readers "won't have encountered anything quite like it before."

Tune into Book Talk in February to hear our discussion of Faber's Under the Skin.


What do you think of this list? Are there any you really can't wait for? Have we missed any of your favourite authors' new releases? Tell us what you think on Twitter @ScottishBkTrust or in the comments below.

Subscribe to our monthly e-updates for book lovers