Alasdair James Gray is generally regarded as one of the foremost practitioners of postmodern and socially relevant fiction. He was born into a working class family—his father ran a box-making machine in a factory—and until he was twenty-five years old he lived in the family apartment in Glasgow, Scotland, where he had grown up. During World War II, the family was briefly evacuated from their home, and this dislocation, along with Gray’s tendency to have nightmares and asthma attacks, underlay the creation of the apocalyptic backdrop to his first novel, Lanark. Gray was educated in primary and secondary schools, as well as at the Glasgow School of Art. His experiences while attending art school provided material for the naturalistic sections of Lanark. Glasgow, however, provided the inspiration, for growing up there during the 1940’s and 1950’s meant witnessing the dismantling of the Scottish industrial economy as well as the defeat of a Socialist movement that Gray had believed could create a way for Scotland to move toward a humane and lasting prosperity.
After graduating from art school, Gray made his living as a teacher, portrait and mural painter, and radioplay and teleplay writer. In the late 1960’s, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) chose Gray to be the subject of a documentary. This sudden notoriety after complete obscurity became the subject of his television play The Fall of Kelvin Walker and, later, a short novel by the same name.
As of the age of eighteen, Gray worked on Lanark, parts of which appeared in Scottish International Review in 1969, in...
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