Rodge Glass was born in 1978 and is originally from Cheshire, though he has now been in Scotland since 1997, and since then most of his family have scattered all over the globe. Rodge is the product of an Orthodox Jewish Primary School, an 11+ All Boys Grammar School, a Co-Ed Private School, a Monk-sponsored Catholic College, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Strathclyde University and finally Glasgow University where he was tutored by Alasdair Gray, and began writing his first novel in 2002.
This book became ‘No Fireworks’, a book which revolved around confused protagonist Abraham Stone, a disguised worst case scenario of the author’s own life if it all went horribly wrong – three times divorced, alcoholic and lacking in anything to believe in. The book was published by Faber & Faber in July 2005 and was nominated for four awards. These were The Authors’ Club First Book Award (UK), The Saltire First Book Award (Scotland), The Dylan Thomas Prize (Worldwide) and The Glen Dimplex First Novel Award (Ireland). The novel was published in paperback in August 2006. The Times Literary Supplement called ‘No Fireworks’ “thoughtful and brave”, The Independent on Sunday called Rodge “a very good comic writer” and The Scotsman called the book “a superb debut”, but The Daily Telegraph disagreed, accusing the author of “jumping on the Jewish bandwagon”.
Hope for Newborns
Rodge’s second novel, ‘Hope for Newborns’, was a tragic comedy set in a Manchester nostalgia barber shop dedicated to the British Army. The story follows two young people, Lewis and Christy, who have seen enough of the world to realise they want nothing to do with it in its current form. So they set up Hope for Newborns Plc, a successful internet charity. It was again published again by Faber & Faber in June 2008. The Guardian said of ‘Hope for Newborns’, “Glass has written a compassionate and quietly comic study of a country which has forgotten how to take pride in itself.” The Independent called the novel “excellent”. The novel was published in paperback in June 2009.
Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography
From 2002-2005 Rodge spent three years as personal assistant to legendary Scottish writer and artist Alasdair Gray before embarking on an unorthodox, messy book on his life and work. Rodge had filled many roles in the years he’d known Gray – student, secretary, signature forger, driver, researcher, advisor, tea maker and paper boy – here he attempted one more. ’Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography’ (published in hardback by Bloomsbury, 2008) was every bit as individual as its subject, and cheekily took Boswell’s infamous portrait of Samuel Johnson as its template. Gray co-operated with the project throughout but agreed not to read a word of the result until public release, and promised not to sue once he had seen it. He kept to this promise, though he did review the book in The Guardian under the headline ‘What My Biographer Got Wrong’. The book was published by Bloomsbury in hardback in September 2008 and was Glass’s most successful book yet, being widely and positively reviewed and winning him the distinguished Somerset Maugham Award, as well as being nominated for The Scottish Arts Council Award for Non-Fiction. It was published in paperback by Bloomsbury in September 2009. The Guardian called Glass “Gray’s perfect biographer”, novelist Jonathan Coe rated the biography his book of the year, and Time magazine called the book “a strange and nourishing stew”. ‘Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography’ was published in paperback by Bloomsbury in September 2009.
The Year of Open Doors
The successful audio book, in association with highly regarded Scottish independent label Chemikal Underground, is one of the most ambitious collections of recent years. Rodge edited an exciting assembly of Scotland’s most promising new writers writing on contemporary Scotland. Irvine Welsh called ‘The Year of Open Doors’ ”a very important book…a genuine breakout collection”, The List magazine called it an “immaculate collection” and the review in The Scotsman said: “Cargo Publishing has taken a risk here…[it] has paid off in spades. Deserves to be read. And recommended.”
Freight is an independent graphic design and publishing company based in Glasgow, also responsible for Gutter, Scotland’s top literary magazine. In September 2010 it published its first ever graphic novel, Dougie’s War, written by Rodge, with artwork by Dave Turbitt and additional essays by Adrian Searle. This was a hybrid, part-comic, part-homage to the classic ‘Charley’s War’, and part investigation into PTSD among Scottish soldiers. The story follows Dougie Campbell, who returns from serving in Afghanistan to his Glasgow home, and deals with the mental war that begins when the physical war ends. ‘Dougie’s War’ received extensive notices in the broadsheets as well as traditional comic press, with ‘The Spectator’ saying it “raises questions about the validity of the wars our country is conducting and, particularly, the effect these conflicts have on those involved”. The Sunday Herald said “its attempt to be honest, without being sensational or voyeuristic about the tragedy of war, is a successful and admirable one” and The Big Issue reported that Dougie’s War is “a hard-hitting tale of post traumatic stress syndrome… it hammers home its message without being preachy… as forceful as any conventional novel or non-fiction account”.
Rodge is currently working on a new novel and a series of short stories.