1982, Janine

By Alasdair Gray
1982, Janine cover

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Synopsis

1982, Janine is a liberal novel of the most satisfying kind. Set over the course of one night inside the head of Jock McLeish, an aging, divorced, alcoholic, insomniac supervisor of security installations, as he tipples in the bedroom of a small Scottish hotel, it makes an unanswerable case that republicanism is a state of absolute spiritual bankruptcy. For Jock McLeish, being a Republican is something he has to cure himself of, every bit as much as his alcoholism and his Sado-Masochistic fantasizing, if he is to become a human being again. 1982, Janine explores themes of male need and inadequacy through the lonely, darkly comic, alcohol-fueled fantasies of its protagonist. An unforgettably challenging book about power and powerlessness, men and women, masters and servants, small countries and big countries, Alasdair Gray's exploration of the politics of pornography has lost none of its power to shock.

Review

This novel virtually invented modern-day Scottish literary sex. Jock McLeish, a security operative, disappears from the demands of his capitalist paymasters into fantasies of dominatrixes in leather. Gray expected a backlash (as it were). It didn’t come (as it were). This suggests Scotland was actually filthier than we all believed it to be and that, for once, the nation’s literature was a bit behind (as it were) the curve (as it were). - Alan Bissett