Literary Birthday – 9 June – James Kelman

Happy Birthday, James Kelman, born 9 June 1946.

Seven Quotes

  1. Ninety-nine per cent of traditional English literature concerns people who never have to worry about money at all.
  2. Obviously as a writer you have to reflect on why your work is provoking such hostility, because all you want to do is write your stories as best you can. You’re forced to reflect on, why is my work so upsetting for people? The agenda behind it is clear. They don’t want to see these people in literature. These areas of human experience [I write about] should not appear in public; we don’t want to know. We know that people are in the street, that they have no money and are maybe begging, but we don’t want to see them in literature. They should be swept under the carpet.
  3. I figured if I was going to write, I would write as strongly as I could. That meant writing from my own experience to begin with, which was in an ordinary, working class, and urban context.
  4. Empathy is crucial. Empathy must come before sympathy.
  5. I was a voracious reader as a boy. I wasn’t allowed into the library when I first tried to apply because I was four – you had to be five. I remember the great delight when I did get in, and escaping with a bundle of books under my jumper. I enjoy reading with my grandchildren – any story – and seeing their responses, seeing when the shift occurs, when kids become analytic at that point before self-consciousness.
  6. I thought if I was going to be anything, I was going to be a painter. But in my late teens I was reading fairly strong writers and I thought, yes, I will begin to write.
  7. I feel glad when I finish books. I do each book the best I can.

Source for some of the quotes

James Kelman is a Scottish writer. His novel A Disaffection won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 1989. Kelman won the 1994 Booker Prize with How Late It Was, How Late.

Source for Image: librairie mollat, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 9th June 2014