(British, 1955– )
Born in Edinburgh, McWilliam is known for her unsettling yet witty novels, which have an assured grasp of narrative pace and great precision of language. Her work is typically sardonic about her characters’ pretensions and foibles, and about Scottish history and identity. Her first novel, A Case of Knives (1988), revolves around an odd triangular relationship involving a heart surgeon; A Little Stranger (1989) develops its black comedy from an employer's increasing suspicion of her new nanny. The increasing closeness of the nanny to her employer's husband and son leads to a violent climax. In Debatable Land (1994), which won the Guardian Fiction Prize, the crew of the yacht Ardent Spirit sail from Tahiti to New Zealand. Mostly Scots, some burdened by the past, their conflicts and attractions absorb them, and they then encounter a storm.
Shena Mackay, Elizabeth Bowen, A. S. Byatt JS