Visitors to the Skye Book Festival this year are in for a special and unusual treat.
Not only will they hear the story of a 17-year-old Highland boy named Roddy Macrae who committed a triple homicide around 1869. They will also see and hear the author, hosted on stage by his uncle, himself much celebrated in Scottish literary circles.
Graeme Macrae Burnet, the author of Roddy MacRae’s story, His Bloody Project, was born and brought up in Kilmarnock but his mother, Primrose, was from Lochcarron. Her brother, and Graeme’s uncle, is Alasdair MacRae, now retired as Senior Lecturer in English Studies at the University of Stirling where he taught for over thirty years, and the man who became Stirling’s first Makar in 500 years in 2008.
Alasdair Macrae has written a literary life of W.B. Yeats and his book on the life and work of the prolific poet Norman MacCaig, published in 2011, is recognised as a classic of its kind. He has also written extensively on modern poetry. His reputation led to his teaching at the University of Khartoum for five years and travelling widely in parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Australia and the US. His friendship with the leading poets of the age has seen him share stages with, among others, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and Sorley Maclean.
Graeme Macrae Burnet, widely regarded as one of Scotland's brightest literary talents, will be sharing a Portree stage with his auspicious uncle when he comes to talk about his psychological thriller, set in the village of Culduie in Wester Ross. To the organisers of the Skye Book Festival, it is a huge coup to be able to pull off another eye-catching event with this unique family double and to meet the author of His Bloody Project.
Committee member Morag Henriksen, who has known Alasdair and Primrose Macrae since their childhood together in Lochcarron, said “Graeme’s excellent novel sold more copies than any of the other Man-Booker short-listed new books in October last year. Just my luck, I had a new book with local interest out at the very same time!” Skye Book Festival Chairman, Donald MacDonald of Aros, commented, “His Bloody Project owes much to the author’s mother’s childhood haunts. Festival-goers are in for a treat with this unique Wester Ross double-header.”
The Macrae and Macrae Burnet event will be one of the leading events of the 6th Skye Book Festival to be held on 31st August – 2 September 2017. Details of further participants will be released in the coming weeks.