Scottish novelist and short‐story writer, born in Edinburgh. Her first two, very short novels, Toddler on the Run and Dust Falls on Eugene Schlumberger, were published together in 1964, when she was only 19. Their successors, Music Upstairs (1965), Old Crow (1967), and An Advent Calendar (1971), established her mastery of brief, perfectly judged comic narratives, in which bizarre sequences of events often flow from tiny accidents, and where beneath the offhand ironies one can detect Mackay's profound sympathy for her characters' damaged lives. A long literary silence was broken by a story collection, Babies in Rhinestones (1983), then the novels A Bowl of Cherries (1984) and Redhill Rococo (1986). In Dunedin (1992), a more ambitious work, the narrative swings from the beginning to the end of the 20th cent., providing a hellish vision of contemporary suburban London along the way. Among later novels are The Orchard on Fire (1996), an elegiac farce about childhood friendship, The Artist's Widow (1998), a satire on modern artistic values, and Heligoland (2003). Her Collected Short Stories appeared in 1994.