Glasgow, the city in which I grew up, has the largest amount of refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland. Although mostly pushed to the periphery, this new wave of Glaswegians are quietly weaving themselves in to the fabric of the city - and none more so than my friend Farida.
18 months ago, I walked out on my publisher, HarperCollins, because I was sick of seeing my novels getting packaged as frivolous, girly 'chick lit'. This week, eminent British children's author Jacqueline Wilson spoke out about the pink covers assigned to her books, which 'pigeonholed' girls and put off boys. And now, young adult author Maureen Johnson has come up with the #CoverFlip challenge in which she encouraged her 78,000 followers to take a well-known book, then imagine what that cover might look like if the author's gender were flipped.
The 18th century was a Golden Age for newspapers. The Georgian press delighted in cataloguing the vices of the age, and playwrights, politicians, actors, and courtesans were all afforded celebrity status by magazines and popular prints of the period. The parallels with today's media are startlingly obvious.
Modern literature suffers from the lack of an epic novel which encompasses and defines the times in which we live, containing as a result that elusive but necessary quality of timelessness necessary to accord it the status of the classic. Having just read Victor Hugo's magnificent Les Miserables, this lack of serious literature in and of our time is even more evident.
We often see this with readers who believe poets have hidden messages in their poems. This is the kind of reader who has been taught - often in school - that meaning is something that poets deliberately and sadistically withhold, and that what we have to do to the poem is ... batter a confession out of it.