Alexander McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and went to school in Bulawayo, near the Botswana border. Although he moved to Scotland to attend college and eventually settled in Edinburgh, he always felt drawn to southern Africa and taught law for a while at the University of Botswana. He has written a book on the criminal law of Botswana, and among his successful children's books is a collection of African folk tales, Children of Wax.
Eventually, Smith had an urge to write a novel about a woman who would embody the qualities he admired in the people of Botswana, and the result, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, was a surprise hit, receiving two special Booker citations and a place on the Times Literary Supplement's International Books of the Year and the Millennium list. "The author's prose has the merits of simplicity, euphony and precision," Anthony Daniels wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. "His descriptions leave one as if standing in the Botswanan landscape. This is art that conceals art. I haven't read anything with such unalloyed pleasure for a long time."
Despite the book's success in the U.K., American publishers were slow to take an interest, and by the time The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was picked up by Pantheon Books, Smith had already written two sequels. The books went from underground hits to national phenomena in the United States, spawning fan clubs and inspiring celebratory reviews. Smith is also the author of a detective series featuring the insatiably curious philosopher Isabel Dalhousie and the 44 Scotland Street novels, which present a witty portrait of Edinburgh society
In an interview on the publisher's web site, Smith says he thinks the country of Botswana "particularly chimes with many of the values which Americans feel very strongly about -- respect for the rule of law and for individual freedom. I hope that readers will also see in these portrayals of Botswana some of the great traditional virtues in Africa -- in particular, courtesy and a striking natural dignity."
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As a professor at Edinburgh Law School, Smith specializes in criminal law and medical law, and has written about the legal and ethical aspects of euthanasia, medical research, and medical practice.
When he isn't writing books or teaching, Smith finds time to play the bassoon in the candidly named amateur ensemble he co-founded, The Really Terrible Orchestra.
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|Alexander McCall Smith Home
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|In Our Other Stores|
Signed, First Editions by Alexander McCall Smith|
|Children of Wax: African Folk Tales, 1991|
|Errors, Medicine and the Law (coauthor), 1992|
|Changing People: The Law and Ethics of Behavior Modification, 1994|
|Health Resources and the Law, 1994|
|The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean, 1997|
|The Bubblegum Tree, 1999|
|Bursting Balloons Mystery, 1999|
|Chocolate Money Mystery, 1999|
|The Popcorn Pirates, 1999|
|The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 1999|
|Teacher Trouble, 2000|
|Justice and the Prosecution of Old Crimes (coauthor), 2000|
|Tears of the Giraffe, 2000|
|Morality for Beautiful Girls: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 2001|
|The Kalahari Typing School for Men, 2003|
|The Full Cupboard of Life, 2004|
|The Sunday Philosophy Club, 2004|
|The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales from Africa, 2004|
|In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, 2005|
|44 Scotland Street, 2005|
|Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, 2005|
|Blue Shoes and Happiness, 2006|
|The Right Attitude to Rain: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel, 2006|
|Espresso Tales, 2006|
|The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, 2007|
|The Careful Use of Compliments: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel, 2007|