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As a child Iain Crichton Smith was raised speaking Gaelic on the island of Lewis. At school in Stornoway he spoke English. Like many islanders before and since, his culture was divided: two languages, two histories entailing exile, a central theme of his stories in both tongues. His divided perspective delineated the tyranny of history and religion, of the cramped life of small communities; and gave him a compassionate eye for the struggle of women and men in a world defined by denials. Iain Crichton Smith:Selected Stories proves that big themes - love, history, power, submission, death - can be addressed without the foil of irony and acquire resonance when given a local habitation and a voice that risks pure, humane, impassioned speech.