The Busconductor Hines

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The Busconductor Hines
The Busconductor Hines.jpeg
First edition cover
Author James Kelman
Country Scotland
Language English, Glasgow patter
Genre Literary fiction
Set in Glasgow, early 1980s
Publisher Polygon Books
Publication date
Media type Print: hardcover 8vo
Pages 237
ISBN 9781857990355
OCLC 11112299
Preceded by A Chancer
Followed by A Disaffection

The Busconductor Hines is the first published novel of the Scottish writer James Kelman, published in 1984.[1][2] This novel is the first to be published by Kelman, but it was written after A Chancer.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

A profile in the Sunday Times retells the reception of this novel by critics: "head Booker judge Richard Cobb voted Kelman's The Busconductor Hines to be one of the two worst books submitted to the competition. Addressing his audience, Cobb recalled with astonishment: "There was even one novel written entirely in Glaswegian!" This is just the kind of pompous remark that has fuelled Kelman's love-hate relationship with English critics (they love him, he hates them) and led to his metamorphosis into a cultural icon."[4]

An article in the Scotland on Sunday wrote that Kelman's debut "landed among the literati like a mortar bomb at Heathrow". It highlights critics comments about the book as "demonic" due to "the sheer profusion of profanity, academics and middle class book browsers could not cope with the verbal barrage", and goes on to conclude that "what Cobb and his confreres failed to grasp was that The Busconductor Hines was the beginning of a revolution in the novel."[2]

Anthony Quinn, in the Independent, wrote that this "astonishing" first novel "immediately established the voice - angry, wounded, intense, sorrowful - yet capable at the same time of irrational mirth and moments of extreme tenderness and grace".[5]

Harry Ritchie, writing in the Sunday Times, notes that Kelman found his voice "halfway through The Busconductor Hines [...] The voice is an uncompromisingly working-class Glaswegian one, which must pose problems for non-Scots [...] and which also can mask its idiosyncrasies."[6]


  1. ^ Meek, James (15 September 2012). "Book of a lifetime: The Busconductor Hines, By James Kelman". The Independent. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Better late than never". Scotland on Sunday. 20 March 1994. 
  3. ^ Hames, Scott (ed) (2010). The Edinburgh Companion to James Kelman. Edinburgh University Press. pp. ix. 
  4. ^ "Tough icon who loves to hate the Booker". The Sunday Times. 11 September 1994. 
  5. ^ Quinn, Anthony (8 October 1994). "Category A literature in Glasgow; How does a literary outsider become the Booker favourite? Anthony Quinn meets James Kelman". The Independent. 
  6. ^ Ritchie, Harry (27 March 1994). "Out of sight". The Sunday Times.