‘The obvious difference between living in the Isle of Lewis and locations like Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus is the thickness of the landscape in which people existed both now and in the past.
Yet strangely enough, it might have been exactly that – the contrast between the narrowness of the strip of land on which we lived and the huge, open spaces of the former Soviet Union – which generated such an interest in that country when I grew up in my native district of Ness in the sixties and early seventies…’
So begins the introduction to Red Star Over Hebrides, a collection of short stories, songs and verse inspired by Donald S Murray’s childhood on Lewis and its unlikely inspiration in the Soviet Union. We are absolutely delighted today to reveal the gorgeous cover for this unique book, designed by the outstanding Mark Mechan of Red Axe Design.
As Donald notes, the great literary traditions of that empire were often discussed in his home village, while the political unrest and religious fervour that marked that nation’s past and present were occasionally reflected in his life on the island.
Inspired by the Russian canon, the work in this remarkable book shifts continually between myth and history, the absurd and moving, the satirical and everyday. Its extraordinary and diverse narratives underline the truth of one of its opening verses:
‘I can see these islands mirror Russia.
The machair’s sweep reflect the steppes
while moors multiply tenfold,
transformed into tundra,
with houses squat in Arctic winds
that shake the fragile edges
of both tree and man.’
Published in hardback, priced £14.99.