Isle of Jura Non-Fiction Riddle Resolved


By Neal Comment

Yesterday’s item about Philip Gourevitch‘s upcoming literary retreat naturally attracted the attention of the Scottish Book Trust, who wanted to clear up the last bits of confusion about how a nonfiction writer (no matter how accomplished) was awarded a month-long stay on the Isle of Jura when that honor was originally designated for fiction writers and poets. “In terms of the live links on your article, ‘the application guidelines’ you have haven’t existed for months,” says publicist Tessa MacGregor, “as of the time we changed the criteria to include literary non-fiction in December.” (If there was a different web page, I confess I didn’t see it; all I have is the link I still had from the original announcement last year, which is in fact no longer accessible from the Isle of Jura retreat’s home page.) MacGregor adds that a separate program for Scottish writers, processed after the Americans, does make clear that “literary non-fiction” writers are considered eligible.

While she had my attention, MacGregor also steered me to the online Festival of Scottish Writing schedule, which lists all the events in the reading series. Gourevitch will start things off on April 4 by talking about how excited he is to be spending a month on the island where George Orwell wrote 1984, after which the Isle of Jura distillery, which is sponsoring both the writers’ retreats and the Festival, will pass out free samples of their single malts. Among the Scots coming to show their stuff: Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, and Man Booker longlistees Andrew O’Hagan and James Robertson.