Callan Gordon Award 2018: Sasha Thanisch

Callan Gordon Award

Born and raised in Edinburgh, Sasha has a deep connection to the city and its social dynamics, which often play into his writing, along with the experience of work, gender constructs and religion. Marginality and psychic dislocation are core themes of his writing, which tend to have a strong political motivation. He has written several short stories, a draft of a novella and is currently working on the manuscript of a full novel. A couple of stories in student magazines are so far his only publications.

Aside from writing, Sasha works in bars, plays the fiddle and dreams of one day opening a bakery. He has been described as a yellow person.


Writing Sample


In bars people ask where people are from. It’s not as common as asking them what they want to drink but it’s one up from asking what someone’s name is. People make a big deal over where other people are from.

It gets tricky when they ask me. They always have their answers ready to pounce. They think I’ll be the same. Pouncing cats. Sometimes cats carved from stone. They ask me and I stammer. I don’t have a paw to pounce from. Perhaps it’s really the same for them.

I have a few beginnings. They don’t involve coming from places. Not that I can remember. Maybe somewhere there’s just one beginning. Maybe it has a place attached. Maybe there are none at all. Just being. I don’t know. I only have the ones set up in my mind. They’re all I have to go on.

I’ve a favourite of them. The one where I’m sat on a bus squashing up a suitcase with arms and knees. Trying not to bother the other passengers. Failing and them not minding. Them smiling. I like that one. I’ve no idea what I’m doing in it. Don’t know where I got on. Don’t even know how I managed to squeeze myself and my stuff in between all those smiling bus riders. They smiled. It was a packed bus on a grey day and I and they smiled straight through the jolts of the road.

That’s the first thing I remember but they say that’s not a real beginning. They say I need a birth. They say I can’t just be on a bus. They say I have to come from somewhere. They’ve their own ideas of where that is.


Sasha says:

"I’m utterly overwhelmed to have this opportunity, it’s such an encouragement and I hope to use it well. I’m really grateful to the Scottish Book Trust and the Gordon family and everyone who’s supported me in this."