With two critically acclaimed non-fiction titles to his name, Shetland-born Glasgow-based writer, journalist and singer-songwriter Malachay Tallack has turned his hand to fiction and is in Manchester to launch his first novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World, which came out at the start of the month on Canongate.
Malachy won a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014 and the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2015, and The Skinny says he is “as adept a novelist as he is a nature writer”. This can only be a good thing – his two non-fiction titles fusing nature writing, history and memoir both found themselves in the running for prizes. His first tome, Sixty Degrees North, was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award and became a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week; his second, The Un-Discovered Islands, picked up the Illustrated Book of the Year gong at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2017.
His novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World, is set against the rugged west coast of Shetland, in an isolated community faced with extinction, and tells the story of love and grief, family and inheritance, rapid change and an age-old way of life – what is passed down and what is lost between the cracks. Bestselling author, and herself a chronicler of far-flung Scottish existences, Amy Liptrot admits it’s “What I’ve been waiting for: a moving, authentic novel of the Scottish islands in the twenty-first century”, while Sara Baume calls it “A desperately beautiful novel. Tallack writes with such tenderness for his characters and quiet awe for the patch of earth he places them upon.”
Headliner Malachy will be sharing the Bad Language stage with ten open-mic acts, and hosts Joe Daly and the inimitable Fat Roland, whose Week 53 show at The Lowry has been receiving rave reviews, and can still be caught on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 May at 8pm.