Alasdair Gray trained as a painter at the local Glasgow school of art. He was 47 when he published his first novel, Lanark (1981), which combines all sorts of genres, from sci-fi to autobiography and literary criticism, into a fantastic account of the city of Unthank - a thinly disguised Glasgow.Gray shows an interest in sex which borders on the unhealthy, as indicated by the title of his 1990 novel Something Leather, a novel that he compared to Chaucer. His other abiding interest is Scottish identity. He was a contributor to Lean Tales (1985), a work that prompted a revival of interest in Scottish writing. Gray's work always contains a satirical element.