Hame, n. Scottish form of ‘home’: a valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin


Harvill Secker, 2017
Alfred A. Knopf, 2017

In the wake of the breakdown of her relationship, Mhairi McPhail dismantles her life in New York and moves with her 9-year-old daughter, Agnes, to the remote Scottish island of Fascaray. Mhairi has been commissioned to write a biography of the late Bard of Fascaray, Grigor McWatt, a cantankerous poet with an international reputation.

But who was Grigor McWatt? Details of his past – his tough childhood and his war years as a commando – are elusive, and there is evidence of a mysterious love affair which Mhairi is determined to investigate. As she struggles to adapt to her new life, and put her own troubled past behind her, Mhairi begins to unearth the astonishing secret history of the poet regarded by many as the custodian of Fascaray’s – and Scotland’s – soul.

A dazzling, kaleidoscope of a novel, Hame layers extracts from Mhairi’s journal, Grigor’s letters and poems and his evocative writing about the island into a compelling narrative that explores identity, love and the universal quest for home.

Read an Extract from the Novel

Reviews and Blurbs

Feb 2017 - 'Richly textured, playful' — Philip Womack, Literary Review

8 February 2017 - '[A] remarkable performance.' — Allan Massie, The Scotsman.

9 February 2017 - 'Ultimately, Hame is a novel about identity; both with specific regard to Scottish character and nationalism and to broader questions of how we attach ourselves to people over place, or vice versa, and of how we construct our personal life stories.' — Will Gore, Evening Standard.

11 Feb 2017 - 'Hame is a sweet and quaint novel, full of just-in-time revelations and obvious fondness.' — Stuart Kelly, 'A Metatextual Scottish Tale', The Guardian.

26 February 2017 - 'Intricately spun... this searching and eloquent novel muses on identity, love and belonging' — The Mail on Sunday

3 March 2017 - 'Hame is an ambitious and multi-layered tome.' — Dani Garavelli, Scottish Review of Books

17 March 2017 - 'Hame is transportive and immersive.' — Jonathan McAloon, "The Possibility of an Island", Financial Times.

8 April 2017 - 'A big, bold novel... a hugely entertaining roller-coaster of a ride' — Liam Carson, 'Imagination Runs Wild in Scottish Satire', Irish Times

Interviews and Profiles

3 February 2017 - 'Bristling with life and passion and wit' — Rosemary Goring, 'Mind Your Language: Why English Writer Annalena McAfee Is Telling Scotland's Story', The Herald

"Annalena McAfee on Hame." Penguin.co.uk. [Short interview with the author for the publisher's website.]

Vintage Podcast: Scotland -- Scottish independence is back in the news at the same time as we're all still struggling to get our heads around what Brexit might look like. With waves of populism and nationalism sweeping across Europe and beyond we speak to three writers with distinct points of view on what Scottishness means to them. We talk about the concept of home with Annalena McAfee, author of Hame; we walk the length of Hadrian's Wall with Rory Stewart, author of The Marches, and discuss the whole notion of borders; and finally we join Denise Mina on a tour of Glasgow's murky past as she tells us more about the real crime behind her latest novel, The Long Drop.

Hame by Annalena McAfee

Hame by Annalena McAfee

Recording 'Hame tae Fascaray' for Hame

Hame features highland folklore, inventories of the natural world, local recipes, and glossaries of Scots words. She designed a Fascaray tartan, which is registered with the official Scottish Register of Tartans, and wrote the music, as well as the words, of the Fifties protest song, 'Hame tae Fascaray', that brought McWatt his accidental fame and was, according to the novel, recorded by everyone from the Corries through Bob Dylan to Susan Boyle and Paolo Nutini.

Now the veteran Scottish musician Callum Rae has recorded the song with his band The Corellas – David MacLachlan, Alex Smith and Jim Lang – featuring McAfee on tin whistle, with her brother Conn McAfee and cousins Alex and Nick Muir on backing vocals. A limited edition of vinyl singles will soon be available.

The Corellas in Glasgow
The Corellas in Glasgow
Left to Right: Alex Muir, Annalena McAfee, Conn McAfee, Callum Rae, David McLachlan, Nick Muir
(Corellas Alex Smith and Jim Lang not present)