James Kelman was born in Glasgow. His novel How late it was how late won the 1994 Booker Prize.
After leaving school at 15 Kelman worked in the printing industry and as a bus driver. In 1971 he attended creative writing night classes and in 1973 an American company published his first collection of short stories, An Old Pub Near the Angel. His novel Greyhound or Breakfast won the 1987 Cheltenham Prize; A Disaffection won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written many plays for stage and radio.