James Robertson

News of the Dead
  • News of the Dead

  • 'To tell the story of a country or a continent is surely a great and complex undertaking; but the story of a quiet, unnoticed place where there are few people, fewer memories and almost no reliable records - a place such as Glen Conach - may actually be harder to piece together. The hazier everything becomes, the more whatever facts there are become entangled with myth and legend. . .'

    Deep in the mountains of north-east Scotland lies Glen Conach, a place of secrets and memories, fable and history. In particular, it holds the stories of three different eras, separated by centuries yet linked by location, by an ancient manuscript and by echoes that travel across time.

    In ancient Pictland, the Christian hermit Conach contemplates God and nature, performs miracles and prepares himself for sacrifice. Long after his death, legends about him are set down by an unknown hand in the Book of Conach.

    Generations later, in the early nineteenth century, self-promoting antiquarian Charles Kirkliston Gibb is drawn to the Glen, and into the big house at the heart of its fragile community.

    In the present day, young Lachie whispers to Maja of a ghost he thinks he has seen. Reflecting on her long life, Maja believes him, for she is haunted by ghosts of her own.

    News of the Dead is a captivating exploration of refuge, retreat and the reception of strangers. It measures the space between the stories people tell of themselves - what they forget and what they invent - and the stories through which they may, or may not, be remembered.

James Robertson is the author of The Fanatic, Joseph Knight, The Testament of Gideon Mack, And the Land Lay Still, The Professor of Truth and To Be Continued. Joseph Knight won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year, The Testament of Gideon Mack was longlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, and And the Land Lay Still won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year. Robertson is also the author of four short story collections, most recently 365: Stories, five poetry collections and numerous children's books written in English and Scots. He runs the independent publishing house Kettillonia, and he is co-founder and general editor of the Scots language imprint Itchy Coo, which produces books in Scots for children and young adults.

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