Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘masterpiece’ named Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year

Author Andrew O’Hagan said he was “thrilled” after his novel Mayflies was announced as the Scottish Waterstones Book of the Year 2021.

Described as a deeply personal book for the author, the novel was inspired by the close and enduring bonds formed in his youth and by the soundtrack that accompanied them.

It explores a friendship that begins in the summer of 1986 and what happens when it is put to the test after the phone rings with unexpected news 30 years later.

The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year specifically supports books by authors based in Scotland or which have a strong Scottish context.

O’Hagan said: “I am really delighted that Mayflies has been selected by Waterstones as their Scottish Book of the Year.

“For an author, one of the great joys is to see a book taken over by a particular work and by private booksellers, who do everything in their power to put it in the hands of customers.

“This novel is so personal to me and the reaction from readers has been overwhelming. I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to all of the Waterstones booksellers in Scotland.

Previous award winners include Suggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (2020), His Bloody Project by Graeme MacRae Burnet (2016) and Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (2015).

Waterstones Scottish Purchasing Manager Angie Crawford said: “Similar to a football game, Mayflies is a two-part novel. The first half is a rollick through the 80s and explores the friendships we cement during our teenage years.

“The second half takes those friendships and tests them to the limit. Fun and deeply moving, this novel is a masterpiece – a love letter to music, having grown up in ’80s Scotland and being real. A truly unforgettable read.

O’Hagan, who was born in Glasgow in 1968 and raised in Ayrshire, has been nominated three times for the Booker Prize and won numerous awards including the EM Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters .

Rebekah Carruthers, of Waterstones Dunfermline, said: “Mayflies perfectly captures the essence of friendships; from wild youth to middle age, it’s a brilliantly witty and beautifully told story of the efforts we will make to help those we love.

O’Hagan is editor-in-chief of the London Review of Books and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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