Alasdair Gray’s paintings, like his books, are marked by both fable and reality.
With every one of our Writers at Work interviews, we include a manuscript page, giving a glimpse into writers’ approaches to editing and revision. On the page that accompanies Alasdair Gray’s interview in our Winter 2016 issue, there are two drawings: a hooded man in profile, and a den of snakes rising happily out of a pyramid. The man’s face has been expertly hatched, and the snakes seem to have been doodled by a cheerful hand. They complement Gray’s dense, looping handwriting on, in this case, a draft of Lanark: A Life in Four Books—a monumental, six-hundred-page work published in 1981, and the first of Gray’s landmark novels of Scottish contemporary experience.
As that manuscript page suggests, Gray’s work as an artist is integrated into his writing. After graduating from the Glasgow School of Art in 1957, he worked as a painter and muralist for nearly twenty-five years before publishing Lanark. When he signed on with his longtime publisher, Canongate, they gave him a remarkable degree of creative control over his books. Illustrations, cover design, frontispieces—they’re all designed by Gray. Read More