In the last quarter century, Scottish novelists from Muriel Spark, Alasdair Gray and Allan Massie to James Kelman, Janice Galloway, A.L.
Kennedy and Irvine Welsh have achieved significant international success. In The Modern Scottish Novel Cairns Craig shows how the work of such writers is constructed by a powerful national tradition in the novel, formed in the first decades of the century by writers such as John Buchan, Nan Shepherd, Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Neil Gunn, a tradition whose distinctive thematic and formal concerns have shaped a unique contribution to the novel in English. Tracing the influence of Scotland's political and social history on its novelists from the 1890s to the 1990s, Craig argues that the Scottish novel has had to develop a highly specific set of formal techniques to cope with a situation in which the dominance of the English language is challenged by the survival of the rich inheritance of Scots speech, and in which the continuing effects of Calvinism imply that all fiction is necessarily deceitful, when not actually diabolic.
Craig also sets the Scottish novel in the specific traditions of Scottish intellectual life - from J.G. Frazer to John Macmurray and R.D. Laing. The Modern Scottish Novel provides the intellectual and artistic context for some of the most exciting and challenging contemporary writing in English.