Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Blue Shoes and Happiness

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Blue Shoes and Happiness

by Alexander McCall Smith

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2006, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2007, 240 pages

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McCall Smith describes the Botswanans as 'genuinely courteous people' He knows Botswana well as he grew up there and also spent several years on the law faculty of the University of Botswana; his volume on the legal system of Botswana (The Criminal Law of Botswana) remains the definitive and in fact, only book on the subject.

In 2004 he published the first in a new series, The Sunday Philosophy Club featuring Isabel Dalhousie, a Scottish-American professor of moral philosophy. The second in the series, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, was published in 2005 The Right Attitude To Rain, was published in 2006 and The Careful Use of Compliments will publish this August.

When asked what ties the two series together he says that he believes it to be 'the comfort of the settings - not too cozy, but interesting and comfortable enough that you get caught up in the worlds of Mma. Ramotswe and Isabel'.

Up until 2004 he juggled his career as a Professor of Medical Law, with his writing (in addition to the Mma Ramotswe and Isabel Dalhousie books, he has written over fifty other books ranging from specialist titles such as Forensic Aspects of Sleep (the only book on the subject) to The Perfect Hamburger (a children's novel) and Portuguese Irregular Verbs (a collection of stories about eccentric German professors). However, in late 2004 he took a leave of absence from his academic position in order to focus on writing.

In addition to all his other projects, he finds time to play in the Really Terrible Orchestra and has written a daily column for The Scotsman newspaper titled 44 Scotland Street - writing over 110,000 words in 6 months! Television and movie rights based on the series have recently been sold to Working Title Films (who produced Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City). The series have been published in 3 separate books to date: 44 Scotland Street, Espresso Tales and Love Over Scotland.

In early 2006 he, along with two other prominent Edinburgh authors (Ian Rankin and Irvin Welsh), published a series of short stories titled One City, with the proceeds going to the Edinburgh based charity, One City.

This article was originally published in April 2006, and has been updated for the March 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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