David Keenan: A Mausoleum For the Two of Us
‘Hallucinatory’ and ‘entirely exhilarating,’ David Keenan’s debut novel This Is Memorial Device was as popular with reviewers as it was with readers. Published in 2017, Keenan’s alternative history of life for the lost youth of Airdrie in the late 1970s and 80s is now regarded as a Scottish cult classic. Four years on we can celebrate a new novel from Keenan that’s been a decade in the making, and Monument Maker feels like another career-defining project.
It’s epic in scope, ranging from the siege of Khartoum and the conquest of Africa in the 19th century through the Second World War and up to the present day – and shot through with the memory of a single summer and an unravelling love affair. Dreamlike in tone and polyphonic in its accumulation of voices and registers, this meditation on art, romance and time is a book like no other.
In today’s session Keenan joins us in Edinburgh to discuss his labour of love with fellow writer Lara Pawson, who worked for many years as a journalist based in various western African countries for the BBC World Service. She has long been an admirer of Keenan’s work. Pawson’s first book, In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre, was followed by This Is the Place to Be: a visceral, fragmentary memoir about her class, race and sexuality while reporting on a conflict.