Memory and Straw

Memory and Straw

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Angus Peter Campbell

ISBN: hardback - 9781912147083; paperback - 9781912147410

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Winner of the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year Award 2017

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Winner of the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year 2017

A face is nothing without its history.

Gavin and Emma live in Manhattan. She's a musician. He works in Artificial Intelligence. He's good at his job. Scarily good. He's researching human features to make more realistic mask-bots - non-human `carers' for elderly people. When his enquiry turns personal he's forced to ask whether his own life is an artificial mask.

Delving into family stories and his roots in the Highlands of Scotland, he embarks on a quest to discover his own true face, `uniquely sprung from all the faces that had been'.

He returns to England to look after his Grampa. Travels. Reads old documents. Visits ruins. Borrows, plagiarises and invents.

But when Emma tells him his proper work is to make a story out of glass and steel, not memory and straw, which path will he choose? What's the best story he can give her?

A novel about the struggle for freedom and personal identity; what it means to be human. It fuses the glass and steel of our increasingly controlled algorithmic world with the memory and straw of our forebears' world controlled by traditions and taboos, the seasons and the elements.


This novel is about living, nothing less. A glorious adventure in voices, it sifts through memory and randomness, what we retain and do not, the vividness of the fragments that inexplicably linger in technicolour, and our own, never-outgrown, absurdity. It's about land and water and fairies; the marvellous and the unavoidable, and what we finally, with due modesty, grasp as essential. An irrepressible, quite remarkable, joy.  Janice Galloway