Leader comment: Scotland’s latest literary lion

Author Alexander McCall Smith, who has been honoured in New York
Author Alexander McCall Smith, who has been honoured in New York
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To a list of such literary luminaries as Arthur Miller, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Margaret Atwood, we can now add the name of Scottish novelist Alexander McCall Smith.

The Edinburgh-based author has become the latest recipient of the National Arts Club’s medal of honour for achievement in literature.

The novelist, best-known for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, was in New York last night to pick up his award from the prestigious club, whose past members include three US presidents.

In an interview with The Scotsman today, Mr McCall Smith talks of how Americans turned to his novels for solace following the horror of 9/11. Indeed, it was readers in the United States who embraced his work even before his compatriots.

He has gone on to sell more than 20 million English language editions of his books and has been translated into 46 languages.

Too often in Scotland we take our great writers or artists for granted, failing to see them as others elsewhere in the world do. We should all be proud of Mr McCall Smith’s achievements as he takes his place among such esteemed company.