by Allan Cameron
Dimensions: 210 x 140 x 14 mm
Publication: 18 September 2017
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With a Scottish professor of politics as his guide, a London-based Italian journalist traverses Scotland seeking a “big story” on the independence referendum. What he gets instead are small stories from myriad points of view: a Ukrainian nationalist, a Russian religious guru, an eccentric Estonian, an Algerian and a dying man, amongst many others.
After a chaotic romance with a Scottish campaigner, the journalist, aptly named Cinico de Oblivii, leaves his post in London and moves to Greece where, reflecting on his time in Scotland, he writes a memoir (this book). Through his anecdotes we encounter the full spectrum of ideas on Scottish independence, including the ones Cinico’s editor didn’t want to publish.
Beyond exploring Scotland’s political scene and its place in Europe, Cinico’s stories examine how Europeans interpret each other and, more generally, how people interrelate within a social context. Like Voltaire’s Candide, Cinico starts with the dominant mindset of his era, which is incapable of bringing him either understanding or contentment, but ends up with an awareness that, though insufficient for the elusive happiness we all seek, is sufficient enough for a perfectly acceptable human existence.
“Allan Cameron’s modern Candide, an Italian journalist, whirls back and forth across the dark landscape of Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum like a shoogly meteor. Sometimes his cynical, witty comments light up the dark corners of Yes thinking, sometimes the sullen assumptions of the Better Together campaign. He meets and hears a score of fascinating characters with their own opinions, most of them foreigners making their own effort to understand the country. Towards the end, the fictional Italian writes down some of the wisest and most moving comments to be found on the epiphany of those amazing months.” – Neal Ascherson
"Looking at the referendum through the eyes of an Italian, whose country’s history is far more fragmented than the UK’s, is a new angle, which throws up interesting comparisons." – Alastair Mabbott, The Sunday Herald
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Other books by Allan Cameron