A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

2020 Highland Book Prize longlist announced

Prize organisers are delighted to announce that 13 diverse titles have been selected for the Highland’s only annual book prize.

The Highland Book Prize was established in 2017 to help celebrate the finest work that recognises the rich culture, heritage and landscape of the Highlands. It aims to showcase the literary talent of the region and to raise the profile of work created in or about the Highlands.

The 2020 Highland Book Prize Longlist includes:

 

The Nature of Summer by Jim Crumley, published by Saraband (nature and environment).

Cottongrass Summer by Roy Dennis, published by Saraband (nature and conservation).

The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott, published by Walker Books (young adult fiction).

The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford, published by Atlantic Books (fiction).

Plague Clothes by Robert Alan Jamieson, published by Taproot Press (poetry).

To The Lake by Kapka Kassabova, published by Granta (memoir, reportage, travel).

Nàdar De | Some Kind Of by Pàdraig MacAoidh | Peter Mackay, published by Acair Books (poetry, Gaelic and English).

In Search of Angels by Alistair Moffat, published by Birlinn (travel and spirituality).

An Archive of Happiness by Elizabeth K Reeder, published by Penned in the Margins (fiction).

The Changing Outer Hebrides: Galson and the Meaning of Place by Frank Rennie, published by Acair Books (history and nature).

Grimoire by Robin Robertson, published by Picador, Pan Macmillan (poetry).

Summer by Ali Smith, published by Hamish Hamilton (fiction).

Pine by Francine Toon, published by Transworld Publishers (fiction).

Presented by the Highland Society of London, The Highland Book Prize is facilitated by Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre in partnership with the Ullapool Book Festival. The William Grant Foundation provides funding to encourage public engagement with the Highland Book Prize.

The first round of judging was completed in October by a panel of 145 volunteer readers. The panel of industry professionals and avid readers from the Highlands and further afield was tasked with reading and reviewing 52 entries from over 30 publishers. Readers spent the summer immersed in fiction, poetry, memoir, history, nature, crime, young adult and Gaelic titles. With such an abundance of high-quality entries, the panel and prize organisers have had a tough job in refining the list down to 13 books representing the best books with a Highland connection published in 2020. Thanks to everyone who contributed to finalising the 2020 longlist.

Rachel Humphries, Director of Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre, said: “It has been a pleasure to host this prize since 2017, watching it gain support year on year. Our centre has been closed for six months, fracturing our relationship with writers and the ability to support the Scottish writing community. More than ever, this prize is important. It allows us to celebrate literature and place, something that unites many of us. When movement is becoming more and more restricted, we travel through these books to the Highlands, glimpsing a snapshot through the writers’ eyes. Seven of the longlist titles are by authors born or living in the Highlands, demonstrating the stellar literary talent in or from the region. I am delighted that we have Peter Mackay’s collection Nàdar de, the first Gaelic title to be longlisted, and that previous winners Kapka Kassabova and Ali Smith are represented. The latter book ‘Summer’ by Inverness born, Ali Smith is joined by ‘Plague Clothes’ by Shetlander, Robert Alan Jamieson, in exploration of the collective impact of Covid-19, amongst other current pertinent themes. We recruited the help of a young adult reading panel this year and I’m delighted to see that their work has promoted the Good Hawk by Joseph Elliot into the longlist.

“We are also delighted to announce that from late November onwards, the Highland Book Prize and Moniack Mhor will be delivering a programme of digital events including talks and workshops with longlisted writers to connect people with their work. I am excited to see the shortlist in February and to find out which book will win the accolade of the 2020 Highland Book Prize later in the year.”

The second round of judging to determine the shortlist will be undertaken by a panel of expert judges including novelist and poet Kevin MacNeil; poet Jen Hadfield; Mark Wringe, senior lecturer in Gaelic Language and Culture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and panel chair Alex Ogilvie of the Highland Society of London.

Judge Mark Wringe commented: “Scotland has long looked to the Highlands for essential images of itself to project to the world, and yet at the same time it tends to think diversity lives elsewhere.  Those who think that should take a look at this long list, and see they are right on the first point, and completely wrong on the second.   From internationally acclaimed writers to new names, from major publishers to smaller feisty ones, with fiction, non-fiction and poetry – in more than one language –  Highland readers have chosen a hugely varied long list of new writing, by writers who come from, choose to live in or write about the Highlands and Islands.  Even getting that down to a shortlist is going to be a fascinating task for the judges, but an inspiring one”.

The judges will announce the shortlist in March of 2021, with the winner being revealed on the 8th of May 2021 at an event hosted by the Ullapool Book Festival, the Highland Society of London and Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre. The winning entry for the best work published in 2020 will receive a cash prize of £1000 and a place on a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor.

For further information please contact Mirren Rosie, Coordinator of the Highland Book Prize on 01463741675 / 07842 040165 or highlandbookprize@moniackmhor.org.uk

Twitter:             @highlandbook1

Instagram:        @highlandbookprize

Facebook:         @highlandbookprize

High Resolution images and a summary of each book are available on request.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editor:

Moniack Mhor is Scotland’s National Writing Centre. Based in the Scottish Highlands, it offers a wide writer development programme including residential courses in a range of genres, tutored by some of the finest authors in the UK and beyond. Other support offered by Moniack Mhor includes retreats, professional residencies, workshops and bursaries, enhancing access by assisting with course fees. The centre also runs a programme for young writers. It is a charitable organisation and supported by Creative Scotland as a Regular Funded Organisation.

The Highland Society of London is a charity which exists to promote and support the traditions and culture of the Highlands of Scotland.

The first Ullapool Book Festival was held in May 2005. It was founded by a group of literary enthusiasts in Ullapool Entertainments, the local voluntary arts organisation founded in 1982.

The family shareholders of William Grant & Sons established the William Grant Foundation in 2014 as a non-profit association to oversee and direct their charitable donations. The William Grant Foundation is committed to a future where everyone in Scotland has the opportunity to thrive, a belief that is deeply rooted in the core values shared by the family and the company.

 

November 9, 2020

Highland Book Prize announces 2019 longlist

Prize organisers are delighted to announce the 11 books that have been selected for the 2019 Highland Book Prize Longlist. With 50 publishers submitting books published in 2019, a team of 105 volunteer readers made up of industry professionals and avid readers, had their work cut out to read and score the 88 eligible titles. With such an abundance of high-quality books, prize organisers had an equally tough job of refining the list down to 11 to represent the best books with a Highland connection in 2019.

The longlist of titles for the 2019 Highland Book Prize are:

Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

The Frayed Atlantic Edge: A Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel by David Gange, published by William Collins

Insurrection: Scotland’s Famine Winter by James Hunter, published by Birlinn

Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie, published by Sort of Books

The Secret of the Dark Waterfall by Alexander McCall Smith, published by Birlinn

The Northern Highlands: Landscapes in Stone by Alan McKirdy, published by Birlinn

The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds by Stephen Rutt, published by Elliott & Thompson

Spring by Ali Smith, published by Penguin Random House

Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga by Laura Watts, published by MIT Press

Moder Dy by Roseanne Watt, published by Polygon

The Spirit of the Hebrides: Word and images inspired by Sorley MacLean by Alastair Jackson and Kenneth Steven, published by Saint Andrew Press

Presented by the Highland Society of London, The Highland Book Prize is facilitated by Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre in partnership with the Ullapool Book Festival. The William Grant Foundation provides funding to encourage public engagement with the Highland Book Prize.

The first round of judging is undertaken by our volunteer reading panel. The second round of judging will be undertaken by a panel including novelist and poet Kevin MacNeil, Liz Beer of the Ullapool Book Festival, and Alex Ogilvie of the Highland Society of London.

The winning entry for the best work published in 2019 will receive a cash prize of £1000 and a place on a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor. The judging panel will announce the shortlist in March 2020, with the winner being revealed in May 2020 during the Ullapool Book Festival.

The Highland Book Prize was established in 2017 to help celebrate the finest work that recognises the rich culture, heritage and landscape of the Highlands. The Highland Book Prize aims to showcase the literary talent of the region and to raise the profile of work created in or about the Highlands.

Mirren Rosie, of Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre, commented:  “I believe we have a really strong longlist of contenders for the 2019 Highland Book Prize. It’s lovely to see such a range, including fiction, poetry, and young adult. Together, the books address a broad range of interesting and significant topics, including sustainable energy, community, and the geology and landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Discovering these exciting titles has been a team effort with over 100 readers from across the UK and abroad contributing to the judging process this year.”

Kevin MacNeil, judge for the Highland Book Prize said: “What an impressive, engaging and attractive bookshelf the 2019 Highland Book Prize longlist makes! These diverse books are alive with birds and bards, Springs and Winters, geologies and histories, facts and fictions. Across the range of books runs a sense of timeliness and interconnection, an understanding that we are bound to the past and to each other rather in the manner that readers and writers are connected. I am sure of two things – the longlist is first-rate, and the judges have an arduous but captivating task ahead.” Kevin MacNeil

On behalf of the Highland Society of London, Alex Ogilvie said: “The quality and quantity of writing relating to the Highlands continues to increase year-by-year, and I am delighted to see such a diverse and engaging longlist for this third edition of the Highland Book Prize.”

Joan Michael of the Ullapool Book Festival added: “What an eclectic and exciting longlist!  And what quality is there. We look forward to the eventual announcement of the winner in our festival in May. But in the meantime, here are 11 great books for people to read.”

For further information please contact Mirren Rosie or Eilidh Smith in the following ways:

Tel:                  01463741675 or  07842040165

E-mail:             highlandbookprize@moniackmhor.org.uk

Visit:                www.highlandbookprize.org.uk

Twitter:           @highlandbook1

Instagram:       @highlandbookprize

Facebook:        @highlandbookprize

ENDS    

NOTES TO EDITORS

Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre is based fourteen miles from Inverness, just a stone’s throw away from Loch Ness. As well as five-day residential writing courses, the centre runs one off events, day courses and works in partnership with other organisations to help people to enjoy creative writing in all its forms. www.moniackmhor.org.uk

The Highland Society of London is a charity which exists to promote and support the traditions and culture of the Highlands of Scotland. www.highlandsocietyoflondon.org

The first Ullapool Book Festival was held in May 2005. It was founded by a group of literary enthusiasts in Ullapool Entertainments, the local voluntary arts organisation founded in 1982. www.ullapoolbookfestival.co.uk

The family shareholders of William Grant & Sons established the William Grant Foundation in 2014 as a non-profit association to oversee and direct their charitable donations. The William Grant Foundation is committed to a future where everyone in Scotland has the opportunity to thrive, a belief that is deeply rooted in the core values shared by the family and the company. www.williamgrantfoundation.org.uk

December 3, 2019