Contemplating Zen at prestigious lecture

Contemplating Zen at prestigious lecture

A Scottish poet and novelist will follow in the footsteps of some literary greats to deliver a prestigious lecture at the University of Aberdeen.

Award-winning author Alan Spence will deliver the 2014 Centre for the Novel Lecture on Wednesday March 19.

Previous speakers at the event includeMargaret Atwood, Sophie Hannah and John Sutherland and James Naughtie.

Spence, who established the popular Word Festival, now incorporated into the University’s May Festival, is well-known for novels such as The Magic Flute, Way to Go, and The Pure Land, based on the life of the nineteenth-century Aberdonian Thomas Blake Glover, who played a key role in industrialising Japan.

His lecture 'Zen and the Art of the Novel' will explore his own fascination with far-eastern culture and how this impacts on his own writing.

Spence returns to Japan again in his latest novel, Night Boat, which is based on the life of the influential Zen teacher Hakuin, the man who famously asked the question 'What is the sound of one hand clapping?' Reviews of the book have described it as 'ground breaking'and as a 'masterpiece'.

Dr Hazel Hutchinson, Director of the Centre for the Novel, said: “Alan has taught creative writing here at the University for many years, and has brought so many wonderful literary speakers to the city. But this is a great chance to hear him talking about his own work, and exploring the themes and interests that drive his fiction.

“It is sure to be something of a Zen performance in itself and rich in insight and full of unexpected humour.”

'Zen and the Art of the Novel' is at 6pm on Wednesday March 19 in the MacRobert Lecture Theatre, MacRobert Building, King's College. Admission is free. For more information visit