Rising Star: Eleanor Thom, author

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Much of modern Scottish fiction stems from a realists' revolt against the dewy-eyed pieties of the 'Kailyard School'. Glasgow-based Eleanor Thom is young - born 1979 - and clearly nobody's follower or mimic, but her debut novel 'The Tin-Kin' (Duckworth Overlook) shows that anti-kailyard grit and candour is alive and kicking hard.

Thom is a graduate from Glasgow University's creative-writing MA who won a New Writing Ventures award for one chapter of her novel. She researched her own family history to construct this look-back-in-wonder story of a 1990s single mother unearthing the harsh life of her forebears, the Travellers of Elgin.

Divergent lives mean contrasting languages, as Thom endows the Travellers of the 1950s (it feel more like the middle ages) with an expressive Scots voice that never slips into mere pastiche. These vagabond ancestors have nobility to spare – but nostalgia is not for sale here.