Book News Archive

25th Anniversary Edition of The Crow Road

25 years ago, THE CROW ROAD first found its way into readers' hands.

From its bravura opening onwards, THE CROW ROAD is justly regarded as an outstanding contemporary novel.

'It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.'

Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family. Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances...

On 2nd November, Abacus will publish a special anniversary edition of The Crow Road. Available from all good retailers.

Ken McLeod's introduction to Poems, published today

Iain Banks the literary novelist and Iain M. Banks the science-fiction writer are too well known to need introduction, but Iain Banks the poet has hitherto been almost undetected. A single poem, ‘041’, published in a poetry magazine; two poems (‘“Slight Mechanical Destruction”’ and ‘Zakalwe’s Song’) book-ending Use of Weapons; some lines from ‘Feu de Joie’ (which he excluded from this collection) embedded in The Crow Road (and with much more of its content saturating A Song of Stone) have been his only publications. But he took his poetry seriously and worked on it carefully, though he shared the results (about which he had no false modesty) mainly with friends.

As can be seen from the dates, Iain started writing poetry almost as soon as he arrived in high school, and continued until 1981. Why he stopped I can only speculate. The manuscript – handwritten, contents-listed, page-numbered – of the collection, characteristically titled poems where the heart is, from which he selected (and sometimes slightly but significantly revised) the poems here, has something of a sense of completion.

Readers of Banks’s prose will find in these poems many aspects of his writing with which they’re already familiar: a humane and materialist sensibility, an unflinching stare at the damage people can do to each other, a warm appreciation of the joy they can give to each other, a revel in language, a geologically informed gaze on land and sea,a continued meditation on what it means for us to be mortal embodied minds with a fleeting but consequent existence between abysses of deep time.

I too started writing poems in high school, and I’ve continued to write them, on and off, since. Only ‘Faith as a Grain of Poppy Seed’ has been published in a poetry magazine; others have appeared in publications of various science-fiction communities and conventions, and one, ‘Erosion’, was included in the text of my novel Intrusion.

Some time in 2012, well before he had any inkling of his illness, Iain said to me that he wanted to see his poems and mine published, preferably together. I demurred; he insisted, and I agreed. He had the risible notion that my poems would provide his with some kind of covering fire. I think the truth is quite the reverse, but in defence of my works’ inclusion I can say that – because over the years we read and discussed each other’s poems – there is an element of dialogue and evidence of mutual influence.

He continued to work on this project during his illness. A few final revisions to a handful of poems were only found after Iain’s death, and I’ve incorporated them here. For finding the final corrections and the original manuscripts, and for much else, I thank Adele.

Ken MacLeod,


The Quarry is out in paperback now

Iain Banks's last novel, The Quarry, is out now in paperback.

The Quarry is the story of a dying man and his only son, six old friends, a missing videotape and a reunion in a crumbling house on the edge of a quarry.

First published in hardback and ebook last year, here's what critics had to say:

'A quietly incendiary piece of writing, at times heartbreaking, at other times really wonderfully funny ... a profoundly humane, funny and smart novel.'

'Wonderfully exuberant ... written with the life-enhancing verve characteristic of Banks's best work.' Scotsman

'His final novel is shot through with Banks's trademark humour, political engagement and hope' Louise Welsh, Times

'Infallibly entertaining'

'Banks's relaxed fluency - the direct, funny, unpretentious intelligence of his writing, which, along with his teeming imagination, made him perhaps Britain's best-loved major contemporary novelist.

The Wasp Factory – one of 50 life-changing books for teens

The Wasp Factory has been voted one of the top 50 books that help shape and inspire teenage lives the most, in a public vote held to mark World Book Day today. Thousands of adults and teenagers in the UK voted in the 'Writes of Passage' initiative, intended to create the ultimate list of 50 recommended reads for teens.

Adele Banks said "I know that Iain would have been flattered and delighted to see The Wasp Factory still enticing and thrilling readers a mere 30 years after its first publication."

The full list of 50 is split into the following categories:

Books that will change the way you think
Books that will help you understand you
Books that will make you cry
Books that will make you laugh
Books that will scare you
Books that will teach you about love
Books that will thrill you
Books that will transport you

World Book Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide with a main aim in UK and Ireland to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading.

You can find out more about 'Writes of Passage' here

Iain Banks publication in 2015 & tribute from Simon Pegg

Our much loved and admired author, Iain Banks would have celebrated his 60th birthday today, Sunday 16th February. To mark the date, Little, Brown is delighted to announce that in February 2015, we will publish a collection of Iain and Ken Macleod’s poems, edited by Ken.

Simon Pegg, a long-standing fan of Iain’s work, said this month:

‘Whenever I am asked about a favourite book, I immediately think of The Wasp Factory. Iain Banks’ beguiling novel is a funny, terrifying, beautiful piece of writing; a story told through the complex, compartmentalised thoughts of a calmly amoral, occasionally homicidal child, no more guilty of insanity than the questionable authority figures that surround this fractured youth. The Wasp Factory has stayed with me since the first of several reads and haunts me still, buried in my brain like maggots, the images appearing in my mind's eye like so many burning sheep on the horizon.

If I had only read this one book of Iain's and not devoured and enjoyed much of his other work, he would still be one of my all-time favourite authors.’

Simon Pegg, actor, comedian, screenwriter and film producer - February 2014

Many fans continue to leave messages and tributes to Iain on the Banksophilia website set up by Iain’s friends.

Asteroid Named After Iain Banks

In recent months, the astronomer José Luis Galache at the Minor Planet Center put forth a request that an asteroid be named after Iain M. Banks. Sadly, it was too late for Iain to hear of it, but on the 23rd of June this was approved by the International Astronomical Union.

Asteroid Iainbanks now resides in the Main Asteroid Belt of the Sol system; with a size of 6.1 km (3.8 miles), it takes 3.94 years to complete a revolution around the Sun. It is most likely of a stony composition.

Read more about the asteroid on the MPC Blog , where you can also view an interactive sketch of its orbit around the sun.

Stonemouth reviews

Stonemouth is published tomorrow, and to whet your appetite, here's a round-up of what the critics have been saying so far:

‘There is more than a shade of Pip and Estella in Stewart and Ellie, and to create an emotionally satisfying while intellectually convincing ending is a rare achievement’ Guardian

‘The storytelling is very, very smooth.. One of his best’ Evening Standard

‘Addictive, funny, and brilliantly observed’ Daily Mail

‘This is Banks at his waspish, intelligent, nuanced best. His fans will give thanks’ Scotland on Sunday

‘…it’s tender, and funny, and heart-stopping-ly exciting. I finished it on a high that gave way rapidly to bereavement – as if I were eight again and had just finished Five Go to Smuggler’s Top’ The Times

‘Jocular, gritty and smart-alecky, Stonemouth is very Iain Banks’ Sunday Independent, Ireland

Iain will be out and about signing books in the next few weeks, so check the appearances section for details.

Stonemouth competition – the winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered our competition to win a signed proof of Iain Banks new novel Stonemouth. We had some great answers to why you'd like to review it (as well as some helpful spelling advice on the word 'receive':-)). And now, without further ado, the winners are . . .

Seth DeHaan
Gordon Ritchie
Jason Cordes
Louise Hunter
Vanessa Round

Congratulations! Your proofs are on their way to you as we speak - looking forward to hearing what you think!

Stonemouth – read the new Iain Banks novel before anyone else does

Stonemouth. Home to sea fog. Gangsters. Lost love. And a suspension bridge . . .

Iain Banks returns in April with his new novel - a dark, fast-paced and brilliant thriller that deals with adolescence, love and vengeance, and the perils of coming home.

We're very excited about it, and with less than three months to wait until Stonemouth is released on the 5th of April, the countdown to publication has well and truly begun. We have a limited amount of signed and numbered reading copies of Stonemouth to giveaway to 5 readers - all we ask in return is for the lucky recipients to let us know what they think of it once they've read it!

To win one of the copies, just fill in the form below and tell us why you'd like to recieve a proof copy. We'll choose the 5 best ones and put the winners names on the website. Once the winners have written their review, they can just send it to us and we'll post them here. The review can be as long or short as you like, though the more in depth the better. No spoilers though! For terms and conditions see here.

The competition has now closed. The winners will be contacted via email shortly. Good luck to all who entered!

World Book Night 2012: "The Player of Games" selected

World Book Night

Time left to sign up as a giver

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After so many of you voted to see an Iain M Banks title on the World Book Night 2012 list, we were thrilled when it actually happened and The Player of Games made the final list of twenty-five titles.

World Book Night 2012 will be held on April 23, and they’re looking for 20,000 ‘givers’ to volunteer. These givers will have the opportunity to give away twenty-four copies each as a way to share their enthusiasm for The Player of Games.

Share your love for Iain’s books and The Player of Games by signing up as a giver. Simply register through the World Book Night website before February 1st, and select The Player of Games from the Book Choice drop down.

Interviewed by Albedo One

Iain M. Banks is interviewed by David Conyers for the feature piece in the latest issue of Albedo One, Ireland's longest-running magazine of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.

For more information, or to order a copy of the magazine, head to the Albedo One website.

The Wasp Factory – Jim Naughtie's Radio 4 Book Club report

The Wasp Factory was featured on Jim Naughtie's Radio 4 Book Club last week, and Jim has written about his conversation with Iain on his Book Club blog.

"The book is a picture of disturbance, a kind of punk's-eye view of the world, which is a place of gothic horror and badness. Yet, as Iain told us, "Frank thinks he is relatively normal - it's as simple as that."

For the full report, see here:

Launched this week: Official Iain Banks iPhone App

The Guardian is running a feature today on the brand new Iain Banks iPhone App that will be available to download - free of charge - from the UK Apple App Store from Thursday July 1st.

Iain's response? "My own app... how deeply cool. This pleases as much as seeing my first novel in print."

The release of the app is timed to coincide with the publication of the paperback edition of Transition and will act as a companion to the novel, offering exclusive material including: unseen chapters, character biographies, commentary from Iain and his original notes and plan for the novel.

A unique barcode printed in the back of the paperback edition will unlock the exclusive content. Just point your iPhone's camera at the code for scanning, and the companion features for the book will be transmitted to your App screen. Fans who already own the hardback edition of Transition can unlock this content as well, by following the simple instructions contained within the app.

Free Iain Banks Transition iPhone App

And this App won't stop with Transition. Content and features on future titles will be added as the App develops, Banks fans will have ongoing access to the most up to date news and features.

The App has been developed for Little,Brown by New Zealand & UK based digital agency TradeMobile. Founder Jen Porter said of the project: "At TradeMobile, we believe mobile technology must enhance and enrich the user's experience. So unlocking the 'story beyond the story' with one of the world's leading publishers is an extraordinary project and a UK first that will quite simply transform the reading experience for ever."

Surface Detail Cover Launch

Iain M. Banks' global publisher, Orbit Books, have revealed the cover image that will grace the brand new Culture novel - Surface Detail - when it is published worldwide in print and e-book editions in October 2010.

From the Orbit announcement post: "The title is Surface Detail, which refers to a number of things, not least one of the principal characters, who is covered, externally and internally, with congenitally administered tattoos."

Here's the cover in all its glory:

Surface Detail - UK & Australian Hardback

And here's the back cover blurb:

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with a murder.

And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching – is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.

It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the centre of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.

October 2010, folks. Don't miss it.

Edit 24.06.10

Here's the US cover variant with alternate font / logo:

Surface Detail - US Hardback

Transition by Iain Banks – UK & US Covers

Transition, the brand new novel by Iain Banks, will be published by Little, Brown in the UK on September 3rd and by Orbit in the US on September 23rd.

And here, for your visual edification, are the UK, US and UK Audio covers:

Transition, UK cover    Transition, US cover

Transition, UK CD

Click on a cover to see a larger image.

Announcing the title of the next Iain Banks novel

We're pleased to announce that Iain Banks' next novel, to be published in September 2009, is provisionally entitled Transition.

More details to follow, as they become available.

Out Now: 'The Steep Approach to Garbadale' UK paperback edition

Another official Iain Banks release date today, this time for the UK paperback edition of The Steep Approach to Garbadale, although copies may already be available in UK bookstores.

Click on the cover image to read an extract from this novel of families and the games they play:

Out Now: 'Matter' – US hardback edition

Today is the official publication date for the US edition of Matter (although there's a good chance you may already have seen copies of the book in US stores).

Click on the cover image to read an extract from the new Culture novel, courtesy of publisher Orbit Books: