Andrew O’Hagan’s Literary World: Poetry, Comedy, and More

Last Updated: June 12, 2024By

Andrew O’Hagan: A Glimpse Into a Literary Life


Andrew O’Hagan was born in Glasgow in 1968 and grew up in a working-class family in Ayrshire. He studied English at Strathclyde University. His first book, “The Missing” (1995), dives into the stories of people who vanished. In 2003, he made it to Granta’s list of best young British novelists. With ten books under his belt, including “Our Fathers” and “Mayflies,” three of his novels were nominated for the Booker Prize. His latest work, “Caledonian Road,” is a gripping state-of-the-nation tale published by Faber. Catch him speaking at the Hay Festival on May 30th.


1. Poetry

May Day by Jackie Kay


This book is simply amazing! At its heart are Jackie’s activist parents, with the pages brimming with marches, protests, and dreams of Peggy Seeger. Jackie Kay paints vivid memories, like Hugh MacDiarmid pushing a pram. She’s a brilliant writer, and if I had my way, everyone would get a copy from the NHS. It’s a delightful, joyous masterpiece.


“Nothing like a wee latte last thing at night:/you’ll always be my wee lassie – moon bright./I’ll kiss your forehead and turn out the light.”


2. Comedy

Henry Rowley


Henry Rowley is a TikTok star who’s not afraid to let his mind wander. He mocks everything from Harry Potter fans to posh students, and his banter is part of the fun. I can’t wait for his Edinburgh Fringe show, “Just Literally.”


3. Fashion

Ritchie Charlton Tailoring


Some guys think their car defines them, but forget about their own bodies and style. I’d rather have a snazzy suit and ride the bus. No one in Britain makes men’s clothes better than Ritchie Charlton. With experience from Hardy Amies, Kilgour, and Alexander McQueen, he’s now running his own show, turning sharpness into an effortless look.


4. Music

Glasgow Eyes by the Jesus and Mary Chain

The Jesus and Mary Chain were my teenage idols, blending the Ramones with the Sex Pistols. We’d watch their 15-minute sets with their backs to the crowd, thinking it was the height of cool. Their new album, “Glasgow Eyes,” is more polished and melodic, reminiscent of the Beach Boys. They’ve mastered creating a timeless vibe that’s uniquely theirs.

5. App


Ever feel like life is just constant revision? My latest obsession, Blinkist, offers major ideas in bite-sized “blinks.” Instead of brooding over family dramas before bed, why not a quick rundown of Hobbes’s Leviathan? Or start your day with a 15-minute jog while listening to Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Ethics of Ambiguity.” It’s a perfect way to remind yourself of all the things you don’t know.

6. Podcast

The Run-Up

The upcoming American presidential election is shaping up to be one of the wildest ever. I’ll be at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July, prepping for both the serious and the absurd. The podcast “The Run-Up,” produced by the New York Times and hosted by Astead Herndon, is a mix of humor and alarm. It’s got me hooked on everything from anti-Trump Republicans to the money race.

Andrew O’Hagan’s Literary World: Poetry, Comedy, and More

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