Following Burn’s night on the 25th January, we would like to use the coming week to celebrate another of Scotland’s greatest writers: Iain Banks.
Iain Banks was born in Fife in 1954, the only child of an Admiralty officer and his wife, a professional figure skater. He studied English literature, philosophy and psychology at the University of Stirling, before taking on a series of jobs after he graduated. Despite this, he had always wanted to be a writer, completing his first novel at the age of 16, and continued to write while he worked. However, it was not until he was 30 that his hard work began to pay off and his first novel, The Wasp Factory was published by Macmillan in 1984; following its success, he was able to write full-time and fulfill the dream he had cherished since he was 11.
The publication of The Wasp Factory was followed the next year by Walking on Glass. As well as being a prolific novelist, Banks also became famous for his series of science-fiction books, which he published under the name of Iain M Banks, the first of which was Consider Phlebas, published in 1987. By the time of his death, in June 2013, he had published 26 novels and his 27th, The Quarry, was published posthumously. Also due to be published in February 2015, is a selection of his poems, collected by the poet Ken MacLeod, Bank’s friend and collaborator.
The Wasp Factory is the dark and shocking tale of 16 year-old Frank, who lives with his father in north-east Scotland, and whose life is controlled by a series of self-imposed private rituals, some of which involve torturing animals, and who has committed several murders. The book is written so that the reader is sucked into Frank’s strange world and becomes complicit in his actions. We have been lucky enough to receive a copy of the audiobook, brilliantly read by Peter Capaldi, which is now available to buy on eBay.
We also have the audiobook of Bank’s A Song of Stone, also narrated by Capaldi. The story follows brother and sister, Abel and Morgan, whose country is in the depths of a civil war; they decide to leave the safety of their castle and join a group of refugees, but are intercepted by a band of outlaws. This, too, is available to buy on eBay.