Happy Gray Day! A celebration of Alasdair Gray

25 February 2021

Today is the first ever Gray Day, a celebration of the writer and artist Alasdair Gray, who died last year, on the 40th anniversary of his first novel, Lanark.

Alasdair is one of the most significant authors of the 20th century, and not only for Lanark – though that book’s wildness, its epic scope and its position as the first of his masterpieces mean that it will probably always overshadow his other writing. His own favourite of his novels, however, was 1982, Janine, and you would have also to include at least Poor Things and Unlikely Stories, Mostly in any conversation you might have about his “best book”.

As well as writing books, designing and, often, illustrating them, he was a muralist throughout his life, from his days at the Glasgow School of Art on. In the Òran Mór pub and venue, the Ubiquitious Chip restaurant, in Hillhead subway station, and elsewhere his art still improves his home city – like his books, a gift he’s left behind for others to enjoy.

Part of Alasdair’s ceiling in the Òran Mór. Photo by Mark Wild.

To mark this inaugural Gray Day, there is a Gray Day Broadcast this evening at 7.30pm, hosted by Neu Reekie, with the Alasdair Gray Archive and Canongate. Guests include Ali Smith, Yann Martel, Alan Cumming, Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Irvine Welsh, Gemma Cairney, Chitra Ramaswamy, Alex Kapranos, Ewen Bremner, Louise Welsh, Salena Godden, Gavin Mitchell, Bernard MacLaverty, Rodge Glass, The Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly and more.

Mainly, Gray Day is meant to encourage people to share their love of Alasdair Gray, and to talk about what his work has meant to them.

For more information visit grayday.info.

Or explore a list of books by Alasdair at bookshop.org.


Thank you to everyone who participated in the first Gray Day! It was a real joy to watch the response and to see people sharing their love of Alasdair Gray. If you weren’t able to watch live, the Gray Day Broadcast is available on YouTube.