” Flotsam and Jetsam” is a short story written by a Scottish writer, Alan Bissett. The story appeared in the collectionElsewhere: Therepublished in 2012.
Alan Bissett’s works themes are focusing on social and political relationships. The short story is about a Scottish woman named Kate, who is on a holiday in Zanzibar.
She has been laid off because of government cuts in the UK. She enjoys the beach scenery on the island and thinks about her friend’s back home who refused to come on the trip.
She becomes the target of some locals trying to sell her boat scuba-diving and snorkeling trips.
The story is set on an island off the African east coast, Zanzibar, which is a part of Tanzania. The action takes place over a couple of hours.
The year is not mentioned, though the political references to Scottish Independence suggest that the story takes place immediately before the referendum on Scottish Independence.
The setting is pretty important if you think about the theme: cultural differences. The main character is in an unfamiliar place that she discovers step by step and which is very different from the city, Glasgow that is her hometown.
Zanzibar is sunny and inspires Kate to feel stress-free, while Glasgow is crowded and stressful. “No gloomy meeting at which the main word intoned was “cuts”, before – like necromancy – they’d come to pass” (P.1, L.6-8).
The story does not include all the typical elements of a plot. You will notice that the text does not have a climax, a falling action, or even a resolution. Is it simply an account of one episode from a Scottish woman’s experience in Zanzibar.