Neal Ascherson is one of Britain’s finest writers in an undefinable genre that fuses history, memoir, politics and meditations on places. His books on Poland and his collected essays on the strange Britain to which he returned from Europe in the mid-1980s were deeply influential. In 1995, Black Sea won critical praise in many languages and several literary prizes.
Stone Voices is Ascherson’s return to his native Scotland. It is an exploration of Scottish identity, but this is no journalistic rumination on the future of that small nation.
Ascherson instead weaves together a story of the deep past – the time of geology and archaeology, of myth and legend – with the story of modern Scotland and its rebirth. Few writers in these islands have his ability to write so well about the natural context of history.