Author(s): Alexander McCall Smith
One of McCall Smith's particular talents is his ability to portray archetypes without resorting to stereotype or cliche. Thus we immediately recognise the Edinburgh chartered surveyor, stalwart of the Conservative Association, who dreams of membership to Muirfield golf club. We have the pushy Stockbridge mother, and her prodigiously talented five-year-old son, who is making good progress with the saxophone and with his Italian. Then there is Domenica Macdonald who, rather like Miss Jean Brodie, is that type of Edinburgh lady who sees herself as a citizen of a broader intellectual world. In McCall Smith's hands such characters retain charm and novelty, simultaneously arousing both mirth and empathy. 44 Scotland Street is vintage McCall Smith, tackling issues of trust and honesty, snobbery and hypocrisy, love and loss, but all with great lightness of touch. Clever, elegant and funny, this is a novel that provides huge entertainment but which is underpinned by the moral dilemmas of everyday life and the characters' struggles to resolve them.
' ... The characters are splendid: Mr JLB Matekoni, Mma Makutsi, the insubordinate apprentices at the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors garage and the fearsome Mme Potakwani are all beautifully rendered, becoming more likeable with every volume... There is nothing fancy about these novels, but they are quite unike anything I've read before. They're refreshing, funny and life-affirming.' - Nick Smith, Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society '... Mma Ramotswe is part priest, part marriage guidance counsellor. She checks out suitors, finds stolen property and traces missing relatives. Above all, she listens, talks common sense and gives advice, not all of which is heeded. - Alan Taylor, Sunday Herald 'infinitely touching, beautiful novels, each of which is a miracle of gentle wit and perception'. James Naughtie 'latter-day morality tales filled with endearingly idiosyncratic characters.' - The Resident 'I highly recommend them if you like to be happy.' Flea, Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'McCall is precise and laidback, perfectly in tune with the African pace and rhythm that he evokes' The Herald 'a treasure of a writer whose books deserve immediate devouring' Marcel Berlins, the Guardian 'There are books which are funny because they pour torrents of jokes at the reader, or by organising slapstick scenes of chaos. But there are others that are more subtly humorous, and they make you laugh just by prodding you gently ... McCall Smith's feeling for pace in prose, his clarity and his affection for his characters all spring out... The books are funny because they track the meandering of ordinary lives, albeit in a gently exotic location, and bring us endlessly engaging characters. McCall Smith became our winner because he never gives the impression of straining for effect. He loves the landscape and the people of his chosen setting, Botswana, and he wants them to walk across the pages as their true selves. As as we know, that is when we are all at our funniest. - James Naughtie, judge of the SAGA Award for Wit
As author of the world-wide best-selling No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith needs no introduction.