BookMark Book Festival

Charity number: SCO45599

BookMark Book Festival

« Back to News

Questions of Truth, Justice and Moral Relativism

22nd Oct 2013

Fresh from his children's session where he regaled his young audience with stories in Scots, James Robertson turned to an altogether more serious subject in his afternoon discussion with Fiona Armstrong. The topic was The Professor Truth, James's latest novel, based loosely around issues related to the Lockerbie bombing. 

James explained how he had been drawn to exploring the topic via fiction by a feeling of unease about the Megrahi case, a suspicion that Megrahi was not the culprit. He wanted to examine how such inquiries can go askew and to look at the bigger questions: What is justice? What is truth?

In the case of Megrahi James expressed the belief that it was politically expedient for Megrahi to be released on compassionate grounds, given that this freedom was granted in exchange for the dropping of his appeal. In his novelised version, the accused was blamed in order to protect American agents. James went on to point out that at the time of the Lockerbie events the world powers were just emerging from the Cold War.  'They did things differently then,' he said, a statement which raises another of those big questions: How should the 21st century global community deal with issues of moral relativism?

Audience members were interested in finding out more about the novelist's approach to fictionalising real events. 'How far does history depend on the perspective of the person reporting it?' one asked, the implication being that if history could be filtered through the world view of the individual historian, how much more likely was it to be so in the case of the fiction writer. James agreed that most history is about interpretation, that it is never fixed.  But the beauty of fiction, he said, is that it enables the writer to say things that can't be said in other ways and to take the story off into a whole new other place. 

And for the reader, of course, it provides an enriching experience which could never be obtained by a mere consideration of the historical facts..  


Karen Campbell was inspiring. Her talk and readings from Rise were memorable.

Attendee (Main Festival)

See more comments »

Our Sponsors

RotaryLogo16.png Proctor16.png
See all sponsors »