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William McIlvanney

(b. 1936)


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(1936– ),

novelist, poet, and journalist, born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. His first novels, Remedy is None (1967) and A Gift of Nessus (1968), were followed by the widely praised Docherty (1975), set in the fictional mining town of Graithnock in the first quarter of the 20th cent. The Kiln (1996) is a sequel. The Inspector Jack Laidlaw novels (Laidlaw, 1977; The Papers of Tony Veitch, 1983; Strange Loyalties, 1991), set mainly in Glasgow, have affinities with the work of Chandler, and focus on Laidlaw's subversive outlook and the psychological, social, and political roots of crime. The Big Man (1985), a parable of the break‐up of working‐class communities, tells the story of an ex‐miner lured into illegal prize‐fighting. Walking Wounded (1989) is a series of linked stories of drifting lives and diminished dreams, blending angry compassion and black comedy. McIlvanney's work is characterized by his socialist perspective, pared‐down prose, bleak wit, and a fine ear for the cadences of modern speech. His recent novel Weekend (2006) centres on a group of English literature lecturers and students attending a study weekend on a Scottish island.

Subjects: Literature.


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