Facticity, or Something Like That: The Novels of James Kelman

  • Laurence Nicoll


Although recent critical appraisal of James Kelman’s fictions has expanded, moving beyond the view that Kelman’s work is informed by problematic notions of ‘Scottishness’, there is still too little attention paid to the relationship between Kelman and existentialism. Kelman frequently describes himself as operating from within an existentialist tradition, yet this declamation is rarely, if ever, taken seriously. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that existentialism is something we associate with the 1940s and 1950s. None the less, here I want to trust the teller; here I want to indicate some of the ways in which Kelman’s texts, principally his novels, can be read as contributing to and drawing from the existentialist tradition.


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For Further Reading

  1. For a hard copy list of James Kelman’s work up to 2001, see Contemporary Novelists, ed. David Madden et al., 7th edn (New York: St James Press, 2001). For a more up-to-date list on the internet, see the British Council website: <>.Google Scholar
  2. Craig, Cairns, ‘Resisting Arrest: James Kelman’, in The Scottish Novel Since the Seventies: New Visions, Old Dreams, ed. Gavin Wallace and Randall Stevenson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993), pp. 99–114.Google Scholar
  3. Macquarrie, John, Existentialism (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972).Google Scholar
  4. Milne, Drew, ‘James Kelman: Dialectics of Urbanity’, Writing Region and Nation: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on the Literature of Region and Nation, ed. James A. Davies et al. (Swansea: University of Wales, 1994), pp. 393–407.Google Scholar
  5. Nicoll, Laurence, ‘“This is not a nationalist position”: James Kelman’s Existential Voice’, Edinburgh Review, 103 (2000), 79–84.Google Scholar
  6. Various, Kelman and Commitment, Edinburgh Review, 108 (2001).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Laurence Nicoll 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurence Nicoll

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