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Da Happie Laand [Hardcover]

Robert Alan Jamieson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 11.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 Sep 2010
Shortlisted for the Saltire Scotland Book of the Year Award 2010 and longlisted for the Creative Scotland, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards 2011.

An experimental novel on a grand scale, beautifully carried through. A Perth minister takes in a traumatised stranger who calls himself 'the son and heir to being lost'. When the stranger disappears, the events leading up to and following on from this are revealed. Shifting perspectives from a contemporary mystery to a history of Shetland and emigration, it extends the idea of Scottish empire and diaspora imaginatively, while addressing notions of being and belonging in 21st century Scotland.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press Ltd (13 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906817332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906817336
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,108,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


Robert Alan Jamieson's strange masterpiece Da Happie Laand haunts dreams and waking hours, as it takes my adopted home of Shetland, twisting it and the archipelago's history into the most disturbing, amazing, slyly funny shapes.
False histories, fictitious etymology, alternative worlds and elusive characters slip, finally, away into the mists and religious byways of Ronas Voe and the Sound of Bressay. Yet Jamieson's tale telling zest hauls you through the metafiction and intertextuality. --The Sunday Herald

One of 2010's most unusual and highly anticipated publications was Robert Alan Jamieson's epic Da Happie Laand… It is the great Shetland novel. Its style echoes that of Nabokov and Marquez and its ambition earns it a place on the sublime Northern bookshelf alongside Iceland's Halldor Laxness and Norway's Tarjei Vesaas. --The Scotsman, Books of the Year, 2010

combines a compelling modern mystery with 500 years of history in a typically experimental style that leaves many of his contemporaries lagging --The List

About the Author

Robert Alan Jamieson was born in 1958 into the crofting community of Sandness on Shetland. Since graduating from the University of Edinburgh he has held the William Soutar Fellowship, co-edited the Edinburgh Review and tutored creative writing at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities. His work appears in many anthologies, he has published two poetry collections ('Shoormal' and 'Nort Atlantik Drift') and three novels ('Soor Hearts', 'Thin Wealth' and 'A Day at the Office'). In 2005 'A Day at the Office' was featured in The List's '100 Best Scottish Books of All Time'. He is currently teaching a Creative Writing course at Edinburgh University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A palimpsest of fascinating writings 14 Sep 2010
By Sheenagh Pugh VINE VOICE
The first thing to say is that when I'd finished this book, I knew for certain I would read it again. This is important, because I've been fearfully disappointed in my novel-reading over the last few years; if I had a quid for every well-reviewed contemporary novel I've read once and know I shall never re-read... Usually it's because they just don't seem to be about anything fundamental enough, and they don't do enough to me; you don't get that wrung-out feeling of having been through something momentous that you get after reading, say, Adam Bede or Kim. There are a few exceptions, and this is one of them; it is definitely a re-reader, partly for all the right reasons and partly because I'm by no means sure I understand it all yet.

In the foreword, Jamieson describes the fictitious manuscript forming one of the novel's strands as "a palimpsest of different writings", which effectively is what the novel itself is. It begins with an elderly clergyman, the Rev. Nicol, who has a strange visitor, a disturbed young man who describes himself as "the son and heir of being lost" and who vanishes as abruptly as he came, leaving some papers behind. Nicol realises from these that he had known the young man as a child and, concerned for his welfare, begins to contact various distant connections in America and elsewhere who might be able to locate him. From here on, the narrative splits into three strands. One is the correspondence between Nicol and these connections. The second is the text of an unfinished history, written in the 19th century, which was in the papers left with Nicol, and this is complicated by the addition of the clergyman's own footnotes, concerning among other things his own struggle to adjust to the death of his wife.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brought Shetland's past to life 18 Jan 2012
I finished this book this morning and have been thinking about it on and off all day. I echo many of the remarks of the previous reviewer; I will read it again (soon), I was puzzled by the ending and not completely satisfied but felt that may be my fault for not reading carefully enough.
It brought Shetland in the 1800s alive to me. My father's family were from Shetland and moved to Glasgow in the 1860s, while another part of the family emigrated to NZ, just as the characters in the book did. The history in the book (which was clearly well researched and accurate) explained exactly why so many had had to leave at that time. I now a feel a need to do a great deal more research of my family background and to visit Shetland soon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mythical Island 4 Aug 2013
This is an unusual, but ultimately rewarding book. Perhaps even one of the top ten novels I have ever read, though I qualify this by saying I failed to get into it until the third read (initially from a library then finally purchasing it). Not because it is hard to read, but because it is unusual. It kept coming back to me over about a year.
The book mixes letters, quotations and time periods, especially in the early stages, before becoming the story of one man's search for his father. As a reader I am not a fan of inserted quotes or poetry and often skip them, thus the initial difficulty in getting into the book.
It has a deep sense of the island's landscape: "Down at the shore, the flat land's marked by a line of dried up seaweed from an extravagantly high tide, then a fence plastered with bits of weed and plastic, frayed rope and stuff from the sea. At the head of the beach are the biggest stones, big smooth ocean-worn ones, that have been rolling and grinding in currents and tides tor centuries before they got pushed up here in some cataclysmic storm. The waders are running around, in and out of the water. Oyster catchers. Sandpipers. Terns. This place is alive. Despite the rubbish collected there, despite the bare peathills and the lack of vegetation, it's alive with birds like I've never seen before".
Though the novel is essentially about Shetland, the location is perhaps unimportant as the book has a mythical feel, as though it could almost be about any island, including a mysterious doppelganger on the other side of the world.
It achieves this mythical sense without any science fiction or 'swords and sorcery', basically though a clever use of history, both real and mythical. In a sense the book is about writing history in an unconventional but convincing way.
As another reader said, I will read it again, which is perhaps the ultimate accolade for any novel.
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