Edited by Susie Maguire & Samuel Tongue (ASLS, £9.95)

The publication of another New Writing Scotland is always a significant date on the Scottish literary calendar. An annual showcase for “emerging and established writers”, it can give advance notice of talent worth keeping an eye on in the future. Significantly, contributions must be previously unpublished, not plucked from other publications by the editors. Each of these writers has submitted a story or poem to the Association for Scottish Literary Studies which they think has a quality that makes it stand out, a piece which carries their hopes for the future with it. So this 36th volume of NWS has both an impressive number of strong and well-executed ideas and a spirit of ambition and optimism.

Among these accomplished stories, punctuated by succinct and accessible poetry, are several which leave an after-image lingering in the mind for a long time. J. David Simons’ Polish bus driver, for instance, who takes tour buses to Auschwitz and Buchenwald and lives for his days off, when he can go killing wild boar. Or the painful healing process, described by Lynsey May, in the aftermath of a traumatic period when the youth of Britain literally rebelled against their elders. Harry Giles weighs in with a piece of fiction that sets out the situation of a self-employed person in today’s precarious job market almost like a series of eloquent bullet points. In Julie Rea’s “Shark Tooth” a few lines of poetry picked up in the classroom momentarily cut across a life of poverty and hopelessness before disappearing again. And in Margaret Ries’ “Lucky Strike” an American convict explains to a journalist how she came to be imprisoned for the murder of her daughter. In a lighter tone, Aisha Tufail’s Scottish Pakistani couple imagine how Billy Connolly might have turned out had he been born Indian.

The fact that the contributions are arranged alphabetically by author’s surname results in a random sequence that often gives the impression of being intentional, giving these diverse contributions a pleasing illusion of unity. Patricia Ace’s poem “Talking to Cancer” acts like a bold statement of intent on the opening page. With only a few pages of poems acting as a buffer between them, Kirsten McQuarrie’s story about Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh in the south of France and Ian Madden’s tale of the almost exactly contemporaneous Arthur Conan Doyle could have been deliberately paired up together. A story in which a young woman repeatedly drops in on her sister’s flat because she fears her sister can’t take care of herself and her baby seems to mirror elements of the previous story, about a teenager going every day to look after a grandmother with Alzheimer’s. There are other echoes too, where threads from previous stories appear to be picked up and re-examined.

One could try to guess which of these writers will be the literary stars of tomorrow, but such an exercise would be beside the point for a collection in which everyone concerned is so clearly giving their all.