Alexander McCall Smith
Before he became known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, bestselling author McCall Smith, 62, was a medical law professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a co-founder of another law school at the University of Botswana. McCall Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Edinburgh and have two adult children. We caught up with the author by phone from New York before he began his U.S. book tour, which included a stop at the Clearwater Main Library to discuss his newest work, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party.
What's on your nightstand?
Proust Was a Neuroscientist, and the author is Jonah Lehrer.
Is this pleasure reading or for your writing?
For personal interest, yes. I read things which I suppose I'll learn from and enjoy. I have broad reading tastes. Both nonfiction and fiction.
And did you learn anything?
It is a very interesting book. What he does is he takes a number of well-known figures in the arts, literature and so on, and shows how they actually learned different things on how human minds work, and it was well before the understanding by contemporary scientists. So, in relation to Proust, the idea is that he understood a lot about human memory that was not made official for many years.
What Scottish authors do you think we in the United States should be aware of?
Actually, I think you in the U.S. do an excellent job picking up on what's being written. But as far as Scotland goes, Ian Rankin is very exciting. I think he's so good because he's able to create a very exciting atmosphere.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.