Laureates of the working class

James kelman SUS-151028-140541001
James kelman SUS-151028-140541001

Two great writers who captioned the hopes, fears and aspirations of working class people in their vivid prose form a unique double bill at the Black Huts festival this weekend.

Born in a tough inner city area of Glasgow, James Kelman won the 1994 Booker Prize with his novel How Late It Was, How Late, which was written in a Glaswegian dialect.

He will be reading from his work at the Beacon, on the West Hill on Friday October 30 at 7.30pm, after flying in from Glasgow just to attend the Festival.

He will be joined by John Healy, a former alcoholic vagrant who spent 15 years trying to survive in London during a time when begging carried ab automatic prison sentence.

He learned to play chess in prison and later went on to win ten major British chess tournaments, forcing a draw from Soviet grandmaster Rafael Vaganian.

Healy’s novel The Grass Arena, documenting his experience as a vagrant, is regarded as a modern classic.

John will be reading from his as yet unpublished work The Metal Mountain.

Canongate is to publish a new novel by James Kelman in August 2016, alongside a film adaptation.

The novel, Dirt Road, follows father and son Tom and Murdo, on an expedition that will take them from their Scottish island home to the American South. They are propelled by their tragedy, the death of Murdo’s mother.

Murdo, a teenager obsessed with music, wishes for a life beyond the constraints of the home where he grew up, the oppressive authority of his father; he dreams of becoming his own man; Tom, punished by loss, stumbles backwards towards the future, terrified of losing his dignity, his control, his son and, with him, the last of his family life.

Sunday evening at the Electric Palace sees a Halloween double bill of rare films by film makers Bob Bentley and Tony Grisoni /Brian Catling.

Other festival highlights include a performance by poet and musician Pete Brown, who wrote the lyrics of many songs for supergroup Cream.

Pete will be at the Beacon on Saturday afternoon with painter and poet Carlyle Reedy.

The Black Huts Festival runs from October 28 - November 1 at The Beacon, on the West Hill, and the Electric Palace cinema in the Old Town.

For the full programme and booking details visit

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