ADDRESSES: Home—Glasgow, Scotland. Offıce—The Scotsman, 80 St. Vincent St., Glasgow G2 5UB, Scotland.
CAREER: Journalist and author. Scotsman, Glasgow, Scotland, reporter.
Offıcial and Doubtful (novel), Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1996.
Forspoken (novel), Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1998.
Offıcial and Doubtful has been translated into German.
SIDELIGHTS: Ajay Close, a journalist who lives and works in Scotland, is also a novelist. His first book, Offıcial and Doubtful, takes place in postindustrial Glasgow. The main character, Nan Megratta, works in the post office, has the job of sorting letters in the "Official and Doubtful" department. One day, a threatening blackmail letter arrives from an unknown sender addressed to someone named "MacLeod," the only legible part of the addressee's name. Bored and seeking some type of adventure in her life, Nan decides to try and find out who may be threatened by the letter writer. Ultimately, she focuses on three potential targets: a politician, a fading feminist star, and a sleazy entrepreneur. Soon she is involved with all three of the MacLeods, and the reader learns that Nan also has a painful and violent past.
In a review for the Richmond Review Online Helena Mary Smith commented that Close "has given the city a fine novel." Although adding that the "plot occasionally creaks and groans," the reviewer noted, "Offıcial and Doubtful is a tremendous first novel, passionate but never polemical, the painful theme of domestic violence undercut by wit and wonderful dialogue: Glasgow patter par excellence."
Close's second novel, Forspoken, tells the story of thirty-nine-year-old Tracy Malleus, a bright and attractive woman who is in love with Drew Monzie. Unlike Tracy, however, Drew is overweight, pasty-skinned, and married. To complicate matters, Tracy's sister, Samantha, returns home after spending nearly two decades in America. Unlike Tracy, who is basically well grounded and happy with life, Samantha is an angry woman who cannot get over disappointments from childhood. Writing in the Manchester Guardian, Carrie O'Grady called Forspoken a "342-page monologue" and noted that the novelist "seems to be a little bit in love with Tracey himself: he gives us her every fleeting thought, and she is present in every single scene, thinking, talking, reflecting on life while brushing her teeth, and so on."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Guardian (Manchester, England), November 20, 1999, Carrie O'Grady, review of Forspoken, p. 11.
Richmond Review Online,http://www.richmondreview.co.uk/ (November 4, 2004), Helena Mary Smith, review of Offıcial and Doubtful.*