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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Mearns classic lifts book honour
Lewis Grassic Gibbon (PIcture courtesy of Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre website)
James Leslie Mitchell, whose work has endured over the decades
Sunset Song, the classic crofting elegy set in the Mearns, has been voted "Best Scottish Book of All Time".

The work, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, received more than 400 votes from the public over a six-month period.

The result, announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, saw Sunset Song 80 votes ahead of the second placed work, The Game of Kings.

More than 5,000 emails and text messages were received by the organisers of the competition.

James Leslie Mitchell, who went on to use the pen name of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, was born in Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, in 1901 and spent his formative years in the Mearns.

Published in 1932, Sunset Song was the first in what became to became to be known as "A Scots Quair", consisting of three works by Grassic Gibbon.

TOP 10
1. Sunset Song (1932) by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
2. The Game of Kings (1962) by Dorothy Dunnett
3. Trainspotting (1993) by Irvine Welsh
4. Lanark (1981) by Alasdair Gray
5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997) by JK Rowling
6. 1984 (1949) by George Orwell
7. Born Free (1999) by Laura Hird
8. An Oidhche Mus Do Sheol Sinn (The Night Before We Sailed) (2003) by Aonghas Padraig Caimbeul
9. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) by Muriel Spark
10. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) by James Hogg

The two sequels were Cloud Howe and Grey Granite and the trilogy remains a landmark in Scottish literature.

Public voting for the books began in March with the launch of the guide "100 Best Scottish Books of all Time".

Titles selected for the publication included fiction and non-fiction titles, both classic and contemporary, and was distributed to schools throughout Scotland.

As well as Sunset Song, the top 10 contenders included the first Harry Potter book and Orwell's 1984.

A panel chaired by BBC journalist James Naughtie and including Professor Willy Maley of Glasgow University, alongside Scots authors Ian Rankin, Zoe Strachan and Louise Welsh, discussed the shortlist before announcing the winning book.

'Broad church'

The guide was produced by The List magazine and sponsored by Orange in association with the Scottish Book Trust to celebrate the depth and diversity of Scottish literary culture.

Professor Maley said it sparked much debate about omissions and inclusions and how a book was defined as Scottish.

"It served as a useful starting point for the public vote," he said.

Irvine Welsh
Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting is in the top 10

"But people were not restricted to voting for titles from the guide itself."

The guide celebrated a broad church from Sir Walter Scott to Irvine Welsh, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Ian Rankin, Jekyll and Hyde to JK Rowling and from the King James Bible to Buddha Da.

Maley continued: "In the five months since the guide appeared, there has been huge public interest in Scottish books."

Robin Hodge, publisher of The List, added: "When we set about compiling the guide at the outset of this project, we were keen to reflect the strength of contemporary writing as well as the classics."

Festival lures literary 'titans'
13 Aug 05 |  Scotland

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