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Tributes to ‘master of creativity’ Alasdair Gray

The director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival is among those who have paid tribute to Alasdair Gray (Robert Perry/PA)
The director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival is among those who have paid tribute to Alasdair Gray (Robert Perry/PA)

Leading figures from the arts and the world of politics have paid tribute to Alasdair Gray, who has died aged 85.

The renowned writer and artist died in hospital in Glasgow on Sunday, the day after his birthday.

Writers, musicians and representatives of arts organisations are among those to have expressed their sadness.

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh tweeted: “Alasdair Gray was a unique talent. In Lanark, and 1982 Janine especially, he wrote two of the greatest Scottish novels and influenced a creative generation.”

Ian Rankin wrote simply “Hellish hellish news” and later tweeted a picture of an illustrated page from Lanark, writing: “Remembering Alasdair Gray by reading his words and looking at his art. He’s gone; they remain.”

Belle And Sebastian singer Stuart Murdoch wrote: “Farewell to Alasdair Gray, Scotland’s great creator.

“We’ll miss you for your art, we’ll miss you for your stories, we’ll miss you for your humanity.”

Meanwhile writer Jonathan Coe described him on Twitter as “one of the very greatest writers of the last fifty years.”

Literary organisations also paid tribute to him.

Alasdair Gray
Last month Alasdair Gray was given a Saltire Society Scottish Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Scottish literature (Peter McNally/Saltire Society/PA)

Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “Scotland has been blessed with a host of great writers over the past 50 years, but if history remembers only one, it will likely be Alasdair Gray.

“He was a bright star in a luminous constellation of northern lights; a game-changer whose boundlessly innovative, cross-disciplinary thinking paved the way for so many others to succeed.

“We can thank Alasdair not only for his own great work, but for his role in creating the conditions for a literary renaissance that has, in so many different ways, changed most people’s understanding about what it means to be Scottish today.”

The National Library of Scotland tweeted: “We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Alasdair Gray, whose rich and beautiful archive is held in our @nlsarchives collections.”

The Saltire Society, which last month presented Gray with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Scottish literature, said that “Scotland has lost a true master of creativity”.

Sarah Mason, programme director of the Saltire Society, said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of Alasdair Gray’s death. To say Alasdair was one of a kind only scratches the surface of this remarkable man.

“Immensely important to Scotland and internationally, Alasdair, his work and influence have never been confined by genre and can be seen in a myriad of art forms.

“His inspiration has reached generations and will continue to do so for many more to come.”

Politicians also took to social media to voice their sadness, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon describing him as “one of Scotland’s literary giants” and “a genius”.

She added: “While many of us will think of Alasdair Gray first and foremost as a brilliant and innovative writer, he was also a hugely talented artist.

“A true polymath, he was one of the brightest intellectual and creative lights Scotland has known in modern times. RIP.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart tweeted: “Scotland has just lost one if its literary and cultural giants. There will never be another Alasdair Gray.”

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