Former Long Fin Killie frontman LUKE SUTHERLAND has had his debut novel Jelly Roll shortlisted for the prestigious Whitbread Prize in the First Novel section.
The winner, who stands to pick up ‘2,000 – plus an extra ‘21,000 if they win the Whitbread Award proper – will be announced on January 13. Luke, 28, who is also working with his new musical project Bows, set to release their debut material on Too Pure next year, is working on a second novel that promises to be even more intense than the first.
Jelly Roll is a dark and comic transit-van trip to the heart of darkness, about a Scottish jazz band on tour in the highlands.
“The book’s about all these myths about black people, that history of demonisation,” he says.
Born in London and adopted by white middle-class Scottish parents, Luke lived in Orkney, Blairgowrie and Glasgow, where he went to university. As a result, Sutherland has a great ear for dialogue and catches the nuances of Glasgow speech as well as James Kelman or Tom Leonard, though at times he’s closer to Elmore Leonard on a diet of chips and Irn-Bru. The novel has been well received critically and commercially; there has been talk of a film.
The Whitbread nomination will guarantee extra sales for the novel.
“It’s kind of autobiographical because I was brought up in the Orkney Islands and went to Glasgow University and people say that there’s never any racism in Scotland, but there is. “I’m really thrilled to be nominated, and my parents can’t believe it either.”
The Whitbread judges said of Jelly Roll: “It’s bleak but comic and a cracking read.”
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