Vagabond is committed to introducing new titles from Scottish authors and translating fiction from other languages. Our library reflects our aims to promote literary ambition and innovative writers, and to challenge readers.
Micaela Maftei and Laura Tansley met in Glasgow in 2008 and have been working together ever since. They co-edited the collection Writing Creative Non-Fiction: Determining the Form (Gylphi, 2015) and their short fiction has appeared in Tip Top Flat: A Glasgow Anthology, Kenyon Review Online and Gutter Magazine, and is forthcoming in Short Fiction in Theory and Practice. They live and work in Victoria, BC, and Glasgow, UK, respectively. Vagabond Voices will be publishing a collection of their co-written short stories as part of its 2018–19 programme.
A.H. Tammsaare (I Loved a German, Truth and Justice pentalogy) was born in 1878 into a poor farming family in a small Estonian village. Due in part perhaps to his family’s unusual intellectual curiosity, Tammsaare raised money for an education and studied law at the University of Tartu until he was hospitalised with tuberculosis in 1911. After a year in hospital he spent six years recovering on his brother’s farm. When Estonia became independent, he moved to Tallinn. His greatest influences were Russian realists such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Gogol, but his work also shows the influence of Oscar Wilde, Knut Hamsun and André Gide.
Ričardas Gavelis, novelist, playwright and journalist, was born in 1950 – twelve years after the Hitler-Stalin pact led to the Soviet annexation of the independent Lithuanian Republic founded in 1918. By the time he reached adulthood, the Soviet Union had entered the stultifying Brezhnev years. He trained as physicist, and came to literature through physics when he was assigned to work on academic journals and found that he could write.
He loved beautiful things, good food, drink, and listening to the blues. According to his widow, “he played poker with demons and death”, and became known for his bright, intriguing and deliberately provocative prose, which retained something of the scientist’s logic, while coming under the powerful influence of James Joyce.
He died in 2002, and is remembered not only as a literary figure enjoying international acclaim, but also as a free spirit with an unromantic view of the world.
Antanas Škėma was born in Łódź, Poland in 1910 to Lithuanian parents. He and his family lived in Russia during the First World War, and in 1921 returned to Lithuania. He studied law and medicine at university before switching to theatre in 1935. He experienced the first Russian invasion in 1938, the German occupation in 1941 and the return of Russian troops in 1945. Having fled to Germany to avoid the resumption of the Soviet regime, he survived in the wretched conditions of Displaced Persons Camps until he was allowed to emigrate to America in 1949. There he became a prolific stage actor and director, heavily involved in the émigré arts scene until his fatal car accident in 1961. White Shroud (completed in 1954), whose original Lithuanian version was published in London in 1958, is now considered a modern classic, famous for its unconventional style.
David Widgery was born in London in 1947 and died in 1992. He lived and worked as a socialist doctor in the East End of London for twenty-two years. He was the author of six books: The Left in Britain 1956 – 68 (1976), Health in Danger (1979), Beating Time (1986), The National Health (1988), Preserving Disorder (1989), and Some Lives!: A GP's East End (1991). He was a regular contributor to the New Statesman and Society, Socialist Worker and The British Medical Journal as well as writing occasional articles for numerous underground and socialist magazines and journals. He also wrote articles for the Guardian and Observer newspapers.
Heather Richardson was born in Northern Ireland in 1964 and lives in Belfast. After a degree in English Literature at the University of Leicester she had a predictably non-literary series of jobs, including bus driver, medical representative and company director. A career break for child-rearing gave her an excuse to pursue a new path as a writer and lecturer. She has an MA and PhD in Creative Writing, and now works for the Open University as a lecturer in English and Creative Writing.
Her short stories, poems and creative non-fiction have been published in journals and anthologies in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her first novel, Magdeburg (Lagan Press, 2010), is set in Germany during the Thirty Years War. Vagabond Voices published her second novel, Doubting Thomas, in 2017.
Allan Cameron was born in 1952, grew up in Nigeria and Bangladesh, and lived as a young adult in Italy. He has written two novels, The Golden Menagerie (Luath Press, 2004), partly based on Apuleius's The Golden Ass but also a polemic against it, and The Berlusconi Bonus (Luath Press, 2005), a political satire principally directed at Western consumerism, the policies of Bush and Blair, and Fukuyama's now disowned victory song of American capitalism. His non-fiction work, In Praise of the Garrulous (2008), is an examination of the essentiality of language to human nature. His two collections of short stories, Can the Gods Cry? and On the Heroism of Mortals, were published in 2011 and 2012.
Over the years, he has translated twenty-four books (including The Anonymous Novel (Vagabond Voices 2016)), and his two collections of poetry, Presbyopia and A Barrel of Dried Leaves, were published in 2009 and 2016. Giving the lie to rumours of a drunken demise shortly after completing a book translation (Cinico: Travels with a Good Professor at the Time of the Scottish Referendum), he continues to live in Glasgow and is reputedly in good health.
Writer and journalist Pauls Bankovskis was born in Līgatne, Latvia, in 1973. He studied glasswork at the Riga School for Applied Arts as well as philosophy at the University of Latvia (1992–1996). His prose was first published in 1993. Since then he’s published ten novels and two collections of short stories, as well as an award-winning children’s book and a non-fiction work. His focus tends to shift from Latvia’s history, myths and legends to the realities of the recent Soviet past to the possibilities of the future. His novel 18, providing a rich, idiosyncratic vision of a momentous time in Latvia’s history, was first published in 2014 as part of a series of historical novels entitled We. Latvia. The 20th Century.
Kathrine Sowerby is a writer living in Glasgow and her poems, stories and translations have been published widely. She has an MFA from Glasgow School of Art, an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University, and won a 2013 New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust. Her chapbooks include Unnecessarily Emphatic (Red Ceilings Press), Margaret and Sunflower (dancing girl press), Tired Blue Mountain (Red Ceilings Press) and her full collection That Bird Loved will be published in 2017 by Hesterglock Press. Find out more at kathrinesowerby.com
Born in 1961 in Tallinn, Estonia, Rein Raud is a novelist, journalist, translator and academic with expertise in Japanese literature and philosophy. His novels, e Brother (2008) and e Reconstruction (2012, winner of the Estonian State Prose Award), have been translated into English, and his work on the theory of culture, Meaning in Action (2016), in English. He co-authored Practices of Selfhood (2015) in English along with Zygmunt Bauman. He has translated Dante’s Vita nuova as well as books from a number of Japanese thinkers into Estonian. He teaches at universities in Estonia and Finland, and has hosted a philosophical talk show on Estonian TV.
Gary Duncan was born in Northumberland in 1967. He is a freelance writer and editor, and has worked in Hong Kong, Milan, and Brussels. He is the founder and former editor Spelk, the flash fiction magazine, and his stories have appeared online and in print. Vagabond Voices published You're Not Supposed to Cry, a collection of Gary's flash fiction, in 2017.
Paul Kavanagh was born in the East End of Glasgow in 1962 and got involved in online Scottish politics and digital media while living in Spain with Andy, his English partner of 25 years. He contributed to Newsnet Scotland from its early days during the 2011 Holyrood elections right up until February 2013 when Andy’s declining health meant that they had to return to Scotland where there was a support network of friends and family.
Shortly afterwards, Andy was sadly diagnosed with vascular dementia and his health deteriorated rapidly. Stuck indoors as a full-time carer, Paul began the Wee Ginger Dug blog. It was better to laugh than to cry at the hand life had dealt him. And as the referendum campaign progressed, our Unionist politicians generously provided him with a great deal worth mocking.
Andy passed away just before the independence vote, but Paul continued to blog and to write. Early in 2015 he was offered a weekly column in The National, and is grateful to the then editor Richard Walker for giving a wee dug a weekly bone to chew over. His columns have proven so popular that he's now writing twice a week for The National, as well as a monthly column in iScot Magazine.
Paul remains heavily involved in the independence campaign and does speaking engagements the length and breadth of the country. He's also soon due to publish the fruits of a project he's been working on for many years, drawing detailed Gaelic maps of Scotland. In 2015 Vagabond Voices published Paul’s first collection of articles from The National, titled Barking Up the Right Tree (2015), and a year later published a follow-up: Barking up the Right Tree 2016.
Jenni Daiches was born in the USA, educated in the US and England, and has lived and worked in Scotland since 1971. She was with the National Museum of Scotland in various capacities (including Head of Publications and script co-ordinator for the Museum of Scotland exhibitions which opened in 1998) from 1978 to 2001. Both before and since she has worked as a freelance writer and lecturer. Daiches, who also writes under the name Jenni Calder, is the author of innumerable literary and non-fiction works, including her recent novel Borrowed Time (Vagabond Voices, 2016).
Chris Dolan writes for page, stage and screen. An early short story won the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Competition, and Poor Angels and Other Stories was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award in 1995. A second collection of stories, Hour After Hour, was published in 2008. Other stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies and have been broadcast on BBC Radio. His first novel, Ascension Day, won the McKitterick Prize. His non-fiction books include An Anarchist’s Story: The Life of Ethel Macdonald and John Lennon: The Original Beatle. He broadcasts regularly on TV and radio.
Winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First, he has written several plays, performed internationally, including the only stage adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader. Dolan has written extensively for radio and television, both drama and documentary, including An Anarchist’s Story, and a history of poor whites in the Caribbean, Barbado’ed (both BBC). He is also a published poet, a columnist, and teacher.
Vagabond Voices published Dolan's first crime novel, Potter’s Field, on 22 September 2014. This has the pace of the crime genre, but retains Dolan’s love of language and sharp observation of human behaviour. His other works published by Vagabond include Redlegs and Aliyyah.
Vicki Husband completed a first degree in Fine Art and trained as an Occupational Therapist. She works for the NHS. In 2010, she graduated from Glasgow University with an MLitt in Creative Writing. She gained a place on the celebrated Clydebuilt poetry apprenticeship scheme in 2012, where she was mentored by the late Alexander Hutchison. She has had poems published in Mslexia, The Rialto, Gutter, Magma, The Missing Slate and Northwords Now. Her poetry has won awards in the Mslexia Poetry Competition and the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Prize, while she was a runner-up in the Pighog/Poetry School pamphlet award in 2013. In 2016 Vagabond Voices published Husband's first poetry collection, This Far Back Everything Shimmers, which was Saltire-shortlisted for Best Scottish Poetry Book of the Year. vickihusband.wordpress.com
Born in Glasgow in 1962, Peter Arnott began his career as a playwright in Scotland in May 1985 with the simultaneous premieres of The Boxer Benny Lynch and White Rose. Forty-something plays later, he has won the TMA (2003), Creative Scotland (2007) and Fringe First (2012) awards. He has been writer-in-residence at the Traverse, the Tron and the National Library of Scotland. His plays have been performed in London, Moscow, Melbourne and New York. Vagabond Voices published his first novel, Moon Country, in 2015, and a double bill of his popular plays Face and Shall Roger Casement Hang? in 2016.
Born in 1953, Lars Sund is a Finnish writer from the Swedish-speaking border town of Jakobstad, and his eight novels have all been written in Swedish. His last five novels have been translated into Finnish, and A Happy Little Island (En lycklig liten ö, 2007) is his first book to be translated into English. In 2007, Claes Olsson made a film called Colorado Avenue, based on Sund’s books Colorado Avenue and Lanthandlerskans son.
Colorado Avenue won two prestigious prizes for Finnish literary fiction: the Runeberg in 1992 and the Kiitos kirjasta-mitali (Thanks-for-the-Book Award) in 1993. Lanthandlerskans son took the Lars Widding Award in 1998, while Sund was nominated for the Finlandia Prize in 1997.
Lars Sund, who studied English, Swedish and comparative literature at the Åbo Akademi, the only exclusively Swedish-language university in Finland, now resides in Uppsala, Sweden.
Theresa Muñoz was born in Vancouver and lives in Edinburgh. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and a PhD in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow, where she was Overseas Research Scholar and wrote the first doctoral thesis on the Glasgow poet Tom Leonard. Her work has appeared in several journals in both Canada and the United Kingdom, including Canadian Literature, The Poetry Review and Best Scottish Poems. She has been shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize and has been a prizewinner in the McLellan and Troubadour competitions. She is a regular contributor to the Scottish Review of Books and the Herald’s book pages, and is the author of the pamphlet Close (HappenStance Press, 2012). She works as a university tutor and a researcher in digital poetics and Scotlit. www.theresamunoz.com
Born in Turin in 1959, Alessandro Barbero teaches medieval history and military history at the University of Eastern Piedmont in Vercelli. He is the author of four novels, one of which won the Premio Strega (roughly the Italian equivalent of the Booker) in 1996.
Vagabond Voices commissioned the translation of his second title, The Anonymous Novel. It is the view of many Italian critics that this is the best of his works, and should have long since been published in English. In 2005, the Republic of France awarded Barbero with the title of Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He continues to publish historical and fiction works faster than this website can keep up with.
Born in Tallinn in 1947, Mari Saat is an Estonian economist and writer who has published four novels plus a number of short story collections, children’s books and non-fiction works. She has received many awards since releasing her first collection of short stories (Katastroof) in 1973, including the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s Prose Award in 1992, 1999 and 2008 – the latter for her novel Lasnamäe lunastaja (The Saviour of Lasnamäe), which has now been translated into English by Vagabond Voices. Saat is known for her sharp social analyses and existential explorations. She teaches business ethics at the Tallinn University of Technology.
Her books have been translated into several languages, and The Saviour of Lasnamäe into Russian and Finnish.
Jim Sillars, born in 1937, followed his father into work on the railways before joining the Royal Navy as a radio operator. When he later joined the Fire Brigade, he started his political career, active in the Fire Brigades Union and the Scottish Trade Union Congress. He became the Labour MP for South Ayrshire in 1970 and worked tirelessly for the establishment of a Scottish Assembly. He split from the Labour Party in 1976 to help form the Scottish Labour Party (SLP). Having lost his seat in 1979, he worked in South East Asia before returning to Westminster in the Govan by-election as an SNP MP. The Govan seat was lost in 1992, and he worked for as Assistant General Secretary at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in London, promoting trade and advising Arab governments on economic development and preparation for joining the World Trade Organisation. Sillars continues to write a column for Holyrood Magazine and occasional articles for various newspapers. He was married to the independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who died in 2014, and is an articulate spokesman for the cause of socialism and independence.
Orcadian writer and performer Harry Giles lives in Edinburgh. Founder of Inky Fingers Spoken Word and co-director of live art platform ANATOMY, he has published two pamphlets, Visa Wedding and Oam: Poems fae Govanhill Baths; was the 2009 BBC Scotland slam champion; and won the 2012 IdeasTAP national poetry competition. Appearances at Forest Fringe, Buzzcut, NTI (Latvia), Bunker (Slovenia), and CrisisArt (Italy). The Guardian picked his performance What We Owe in their best-of-the-Fringe 2013 roundup.
Since publishing his poetry sequence "Drone" with Vagabond Voices (as part of Our Real Red Selves) in 2015 Giles has continued to create compelling and award-winning works. For more on his projects please visit harrygiles.org.
Marion McCready lives in Dunoon, Argyll. Her poems have been published in many magazines including Poetry (Chicago), Poetry Salzburg Review and The Glasgow Herald. Her pamphlet, Vintage Sea, was published in 2011. In the same year, she won the Melita Hume Poetry Prize and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2013, which included nine months' mentoring by Vicki Feaver. Her first full-length collection, Tree Language, was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2014. Since publishing her poetry sequence "The Birth Garden" as part of Vagabond's Our Real Red Selves in 2015, McCready has stayed busy: her second full-length collection, Madame Ecosse (Eyewear Publishing), is due out in Spring 2017. sorlily.blogspot.co.uk
J.L. Williams was born in New Jersey and studied Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. She moved to Edinburgh in 2001. She has collaborated with artists, musicians and film-makers. She was awarded an Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary, enabling her to journey to the Aeolian Isles to write Condition of Fire (Shearsman Books, 2011). Her second collection, Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), explores the idea of home and where we come from. J.L. Williams performs in the band Opul. jlwilliamspoetry.co.uk
Born in 1948, Gerry Loose has lived in England, Ireland, Spain, Morocco (briefly) and now Scotland. A slow-moving nomad, he is poet, writer and land artist who works primarily with subjects from the natural world, as well as the world of geopolitics. His poems and texts are as often found in built and natural settings as on the page.
He also designs and makes gardens. His poetry is as likely to appear in these (and ungardened landscapes) as on the page.
Among his most recent publications are Printed on Water, New and Selected Poems (Shearsman Books), and that person himself. Vagabond Voices published his poetry collection, Fault Line, in 2014. His awards include the Creative Scotland Award, the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, the Kooneen Säätiö Award and the Hermann Kesten Award.
Lewis Gordon was born in 1983. After completing a music degree he worked as a postman and music instructor before becoming a session musician. He has performed and recorded widely, working with major artists including Codeine Velvet Club, Jon Fratelli and Texas. Since 2011 he has played bass guitar with Deacon Blue. 2011 was also the year he began writing fiction, inspired by a course at Glasgow University’s Centre for Open Studies. There he was galvanised by an energetic collective of writers and became involved with new fiction quarterly thi wurd, where an early short story was published. He was born, raised and lives in the southside of Glasgow. Sheep and Goats is his first novel. www.lewis-gordon.com
Allan Massie is the author of twenty novels and a dozen non-fiction books. His six novels about the Roman Empire have been widely translated, and have been particularly successful in Brazil. Gore Vidal has defined him as a “master of the long-ago historical novel”. His twentieth century novels have been compared by French critics to Balzac and Stendhal, by Muriel Spark to Thomas Mann, and by others to Evelyn Waugh. He thinks such comparisons as pleasing as they are ridiculously exaggerated. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and has been given an honorary doctorate by Strathclyde University.
Magnus Florin, born in Uppsala in 1955, was first published in 1989 with The Narrative Flow. The Garden was published in 1995 and brought him unexpected success. The German version came out as recently as 2013 and once again attracted a great deal of critical attention. It is his first work to be published in English. He has written poetry, short prose works and four other novels. He has also worked as a librettist. An opera staged at the Drottningholm Theatre in 1999 was based on The Garden. He has worked on dramatisations, including Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time for Swedish Radio in 2009.
Gregory Norminton was born in Berkshire in 1976, of Franco-Belgo-Irish parentage. He was educated at Wellington College and studied English at Oxford University, before studying drama at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. The “profession” of actor allowed him to devote his entire time to writing and his first novel, The Ship of Fools, was published by Sceptre in 2002. It was followed in 2004 by Arts and Wonders, for which he was awarded an Arts Council Writers Award. Following a brief spell in the American Midwest, he wrote a third novel, Ghost Portrait, which was published in 2005, when he also took part in a conservation-themed television series, Planet Action, which was filmed in Panama, Belize, Malaysia and Cambodia.
Gregory Norminton moved to Edinburgh in 2007, where he finished a fourth novel, Serious Things, which was published to great acclaim and derisory sales in 2008. In 2010 he married the dedicatee of this book of aphorisms. In 2011 he took up a lectureship in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. As well as writing novels, Gregory Norminton has translated Gustave Flaubert’s Dictionary of Received Ideas, published short stories, written plays for radio and appeared several times on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. He recently edited a collection of original fiction by major UK authors, Out of Chaos – stories for our shared planet, which was published by Oneworld in 2013. Vagabond Voices published his collection of short stories, Thumbnails, in 2013.
Les Wilson is a writer, journalist and award-winning documentary film-maker. His university was an early career in regional and evening newspapers, and an overland journey to India. He became an on-screen reporter on Scottish Television’s nightly news programme and later the editor of the channel’s political programme, Ways and Means. It was in this role that he witnessed the vote of confidence that brought down Callaghan’s government and led to the Thatcher one in 1979. Although his work has taken him to six continents and challenging locations like Chernobyl and Southern Sudan, he still believes that night in Westminster to have been the most remarkable scene he has ever witnessed.
As a documentary-maker, he has directed several films and his “political” documentaries include The Englishing of Scotland, Independence Day and, in Gaelic, Diomhair (Secret). He is the co-author of Scotland’s War, based on a 30-part documentary series he directed. Fire in the Head is his first published novel.
Ermanno Cavazzoni is one of Italy’s most original writers. He is also a reasonably prolific one whose works have been translated in many European languages. This is the second of his books to be translated into English, and readers are unlikely to find anything quite like it on the shelves (nearly) full of dreary sameness in our bookshops. They would do well to give it a try and enter into its fantastic spirit of the absurd best described as a vibrant literary grotesque in the Italian tradition.
Ermanno Cavazzoni’s first novel was made into Fellini’s last film, The Voice of the Moon.
Luciano Mecacci (born 1946) is professor of psychology at Florence University, and has written widely in his field, although his particular expertise is psychophysiology and the history of psychology. He has worked in Russia and France, and his books have been translated into English, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and German. In 2000 he recieved the Minguzzi Prize for his contribution to psychology, and in 2005 he received an honorary degree from Lima University.