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Interview: Jessica Barden

The Yorkshire actor plays a dysfunctional teen in her new dark comedy. She tells Janet Christie why it’s her best role yet

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Will Sutcliffe

The best young adult fiction this autumn

Sixteen-year-old Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew member on a spaceship tasked with colonising Earth II in Lauren James’s Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Walker Books, £7.99). Hurtling through space towards an uncertain future, completely alone, Romy is struggling to keep herself together. With a time-lapse of several years, meaningful communication with Earth is impossible, so when she starts to receive reports from a relief ship rapidly converging on hers, Romy allows herself to hope. As the second ship approaches, however, it becomes clear not everything is as it seems. This is a tense psychological thriller that will suck you into the claustrophobic interior of Romy’s ship and leave you gasping for air.

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Kevin, by Rob Biddulph

The best children’s books this autumn

Beautiful illustrations of nocturnal creatures, imaginary friends and frustrated vampires bring these children’s stories to life, write Emma Dunn and Sarah Mallon

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John Banville

Book review: Mrs Osmond by John Banville

The Portrait Of A Lady by Henry James ends on one of the most daringly ambiguous suspended chords in literature. Will Isabel Osmond, née Archer, return from her cousin’s deathbed to her husband Gilbert, whom she has learned has had an illegitimate child with the rather flash Madame Merle, or will she strike out for the territories as a free woman? To even contemplate the thereafters of the story is a kind of awful affront to James’s perfect lack of closure. Yet this is precisely what the Man Booker Prize-winner John Banville has done. The continuation of the story is almost pre-programmed to disappoint.

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Mark Muller Stuart

Book review: Storm In The Desert by Mark Muller Stuart

In April 2011, Scottish QC Mark Muller Stuart and solicitor Jason McCue made a wild dash across the desert from Egypt to Benghazi, capital of the Libyan uprising against Muammar Gaddafi. McCue represented 150 victims of IRA bombings that had used Libyan-supplied Semtex explosive; he was looking to pursue the case with Libya’s presumed new rulers. Reports of new evidence in the Lockerbie bombing were also a concern. Muller Stuart, with decades of work in the Middle East under his belt, wanted to make connections with Libyan lawyers prominent in the uprising.

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Denise Mina and James Kelman are just two of the authors in the running for the literary honours. Pictures: TSPL

Saltire Literary Awards nominees revealed

James Kelman, Bernard MacLaverty, Angus Peter Campbell, Denise Mina, James Donald and John Burnside are in the running for Scotland’s flagship literary honours.

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Robert J Harris PIC: Greg Macvean

Book review: Thirty-One Kings, by Robert J Harris

John Buchan’s survival is remarkable. The novels he seemed to throw off so easily and described dismissively as “shockers” have outlasted the work of many of his contemporaries recognised in their time as serious and important novelists. It’s more than a hundred years now since Richard Hannay, disguised as a milkman, slipped out of his flat leaving the murdered Scudder behind and took a train to Scotland to embark on the first of his adventures. I don’t think The Thirty-Nine Steps has ever been out of print since.

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Year of the Drought, by Roland Buti

Book review: Year of the Drought, by Roland Buti

The last few years have seen some notable triumphs for writers who believe that less is more. Perhaps most obviously, Austria’s Robert Seethaler made the Man Booker International shortlist in 2016 for A Whole Life, in which he somehow managed to concertina the epic, century-spanning story of a farmer turned cable car engineer turned soldier turned mountain guide into just 124 pages. Then there’s the Dutch author Otto De Kat (the pen-name of retired publisher Jan Geurt Gaarlandt) who pulled off a similar trick in his Second World War novellas Man on the Move (2004, 128 pages), Julia (2011, 194 pages) and News From Berlin (2014, 152 pages).

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Dame Muriel Spark (right) with her former secretary Penelope Jardine at home in Tuscany. The Edinburgh-born author never reconciled with her son.

Celebrated Scots author Muriel Spark ‘haunted by family rifts’

A new book on Dame Muriel Spark by a journalist who became a close friend in her final 16 years of her life is to lift the lid on how she was haunted by long-running family rifts and relationships which turned sour.

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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: John Devlin

Iconic Glasgow venue to host ‘An evening with Brendan Rodgers’

Celtic fans will get the chance to see manager Brendan Rodgers at the iconic SEC Armadillo venue in Glasgow.

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Robert Alan Jamieson

Book review: macCloud Falls, by Robert Alan Jamieson

As I have said before, many novels have the equivalent of a Freudian slip. In this work it comes on page 139, where the Edinburgh bookseller and central character, Gilbert Johnson, is reminiscing about his time among the Scottish literati (a scene which itself is a homage to a similar moment in Alasdair Gray’s 1982 Janine). “And yet, and yet, some take it all far too seriously. Writing and all that. A lot of the books he handled were simply curate’s eggs, with something to commend but faults aplenty”. There is much to admire here, but there are also significant problems. I very much admire Robert Alan Jamieson’s A Day At The Office – in fact, I think it a neglected classic – and although Da Happie Laand was slightly raggedy, it was admirably ambitious and intriguing.

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A woman stands near a destroyed building in Leninakan (now Gyumri), the second largest city in Armenia, following the devastating earthquake of 1988 PIC: JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images

Book review: Moscow Calling - Memoirs Of A Foreign Correspondent, by Angus Roxburgh

Angus Roxburgh’s objective investigative reporting from the last years of the Soviet Union until the presidency of Vladimir Putin will be well known to many. These memoirs show us the understanding, empathy and the compassion that underpinned the knowledge and authority of that reporting. It must also be said that this book goes beyond memoir: it is a gripping story, scintillatingly told.

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Judy Murray will be attending Book Week Scotland. Picture: PA

Judy Murray to join authors at annual Book Week Scotland

Tennis coach Judy Murray, conservationist John Lister-Kay and cookery guru Sue Lawrence will be among the authors taking part in Scotland’s annual celebration of books and literature.

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Adam Kay PIC: Martinovic and Noble Photo Agency

Book review: This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay

The Scotsman’s monthly review of a book about health, promoted by Wellcome

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Anniesland Court in Glasgow PIC: Allan Milligan

Book review: Who Built Scotland: A History of the Nation in 25 Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is a Quango, formed in 2015 by a merger of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Board members are appointed by the Scottish Government. Its remit is wide and its work important. This book may be regarded as an advertisement for the new Quango. If so, it is a very good and engaging one, despite the awkwardness of the title. The 25 essays are all admirable appreciations of buildings – or of landscape and places from which the buildings have long disappeared. They are written with knowledge and enthusiasm, and the photographs are gorgeous. You can’t read it without getting a sense of the richness of our history, and at the same time each of the essays sounds a personal note, none more so than the most surprising one, Alistair Moffat’s memories of his childhood in a post-war pre-fab in Kelso.

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Irvine Welsh is set to kill off one of the main Trainspotting characters in his upcoming book. Picture: Contributed

Irvine Welsh to kill off Trainspotting character in new book

Author Irvine Welsh is to kill off one of the main Trainspotting characters in his next book, it has been revealed.

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Shaun Bythell, owner of The Book Shop in Wigtown and author of The Diary of a Bookseller

Stuart Kelly’s Wigtown Book Festival Diary

There is revolution in the air in Wigtown. Outside the County Buildings there are photographs by writer Robert Twigger of authors holding a blackboard on which they have been invited to respond to the question “What would you want come the revolution?” The answers range from the silly to the sublime, the earnest to the ironic. But it is a theme which has been threaded through this, the 19th festival.

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Shaun Bythell PIC: Robert Perry

Book extract: The Diary of a Bookseller

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop in Wigtown - Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop, with over 100,000 books spread over a mile of shelving. In 2014 he began to keep a diary of the goings-on there and The Diary of a Bookseller, published this week by Profile, is the result. His diary entries, which cover a 12-month period from 5 February 2014, are peopled with fascinating characters, from Nicky, his unruly, Morrisons-skip-raiding, sort-of-deputy, to Mr Deacon, possibly the only customer who still orders books from a shop rather than Amazon, to his friend “Eliot”, organiser of the annual Wigtown Book Festival and the star of the following extract, who delights in leaving his shoes around for people to trip over.

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Alexander McCall Smith

Book review: The House Of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the 18th book in Alexander McCall Smith’s No 1 Ladies Detective series and, like its predecessors, it effortlessly weaves strands of seemingly disparate narratives into a coherent whole. In this latest adventure, Botswana’s first female private detective, Precious Ramotswe and her assistant, Grace Makutsi – who now styles herself principal investigating officer – look into the case of Charity Mompoloki, fired from her job at an office supply company in Gaborone for alleged rudeness to a customer.

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Ken MacLeod

Book review: The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod

So we get to the end, and the possibility of beginnings. In the first two volumes of Ken MacLeod’s ambitious sci-fi series we have seen, initially, the stirrings of consciousness among robots sent to terraform and asset-strip extraterrestrial places. When the global government becomes aware of this development, they send in a crack squad to quell the awakening: the minds of terrorists from a former war, kept in stasis and uploaded into their own miniature and cybernetic bodies, have the future of an alternate reality paradise dangled before them as long as they do what they’re told.

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