How Alasdair Gray Helped Me Get My Job


alasdair gray

I was really sorry to hear over the weekend that acclaimed Scots author and artist Alasdair Gray had died at the age of 85.

Not least because his famous novel “Lanark” was partly responsible for where I am today!

Back in the 1980s, I studied English Language and Literature at the University of Edinburgh. One of the courses that I took towards my degree was Modern Scottish Literature.

My tutor recommended “Lanark”, which was first published in 1981.

Even then, just a few years after its publication, it was recognised as one of the most important Scottish novels ever published.

It was the first of many for Alasdair Gray, and it took him almost 30 years to write.

It’s also fair to say that it’s a challenging read. It blends realism and surrealism in a frequently dystopian vision of the city of Glasgow.

However, it is, of course, well worth the perseverance it requires.

Fast forward a year or two, and my interview for a job with D.C. Thomson. As you might expect at a publishing company, interviewers were keen to hear about a candidate’s reading preferences.

When asked about which book had made a lasting impression on me, I answered “Lanark”.

It seemed to make a lasting impression on the senior editor who had asked the question, too!

“I’ve never met anyone who’s actually read that book,” he told me.

The rest, as they say, is history. I got the job, and all these years later, I’m still here!

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Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.