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The award-winning epic novel received near-unanimous critical acclaim in the mainstream British press.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Daily Mail.


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Retrieved 1 July The Independent. The Observer.

And the Land Lay Still

The Herald. The Daily Telegraph. It gives him a fair bit to play with, from the global oil, industry, services to the national sectarianism, communism, Thatcherism, devolution and destruction to the direct and personal. Each of these would be meat enough for most authors, but Robertson has set himself the task of writing a complete state-of-the-nation accounting.

To do so, he picks through images — both the fictional photographs taken by Angus Pendreich covering several decades of Scottish life and the narrative snapshots provided by a group of apparently disparate characters. The narrative moves from Angus's son, Michael, struggling with writing the catalogue foreword for a big gallery retrospective, to Don Lennie, the conservative socialist, and then to Jimmy Bond, the misnamed spy — each of them beautiful full-colour portraits.

It isn't until right at the end that the relationships between each of these men are pulled together and framed in one final decisive moment.

The backdrop to all of it is "the wastelands of de-industrialised Scotland, a tour of devastation called Uddingston, Bellshill, Cleland, Shotts, Fauldhouse, Breich, West Calder, all those places nobody outside Scotland thinks of as being Scottish, the Scotland so real it defies the imagination".

For this is a book about the Central Belt, the bit in the middle bookended by Glasgow on the one side and Edinburgh on the other, the place not of deer and heather but of slag bings and state penitentiaries and holes in the ground that open up in the middle of the day. For those who want to confront the state we're in, this riven patch of land is where it's at. Even so, there are two curious omissions here: God presumably because Robertson feels he's dealt with Him elsewhere and industry.

It took Scottish industry a long and painful time to die, and as it went it made damn sure that no one could fail to notice its going.

But Robertson treats the loss of coal, steel and shipping mainly as dissonant noises off, not as central parts of his narrative. He shows us what became — or what didn't become — of towns and villages like the fictional Drumkirk and Borlanslogie but chooses to tell his tale mainly through the politics, not the jobs. Sometimes, it's a frustrating choice. The closure of Ravenscraig or Monktonhall is not a story short on either drama or resonance. Case Histories. Night School.

Dear Scotland. . . James Robertson’s And the Land Lay Still

The Heart's Invisible Furies. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The Girl on the Train. Dragonfly In Amber. The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

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