A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Scotland’s National Book Awards Announced

The Saltire Society announced the winners of the 2019 Literary Awards at a glittering ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland on Saturday 30 November.

Kirstie Blair received the prestigious Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award for her Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community (published by Oxford University Press), and in a new award for 2019 Alasdair Gray was awarded the inaugural Saltire Society Scottish Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Scottish literature.

In a ceremony presided over by BBC Presenter Cathy MacDonald, Awards were presented in six literary categories including The Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year won by Ewan Morrison with his novel Nina X (published by Little Brown Group/Fleet Imprint) and The Saltire Society Scottish Non Fiction Book of the Year won by Melanie Reid for her memoir The World I Fell Out Of (published by Fourth Estate, Harper Collins).

The Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year was presented to Janette Ayachi for her collection Hand Over Mouth Music (published by Pavilion Poetry),

The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award, supported by the Scottish Historical Review Trust, was presented to Norman H Reid for Alexander III; 1249-1286, First Among Equals (published by Birlinn) and The Saltire Scottish Research Book of the Year Award, supported by the National Library of Scotland was won by Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community by Kirstie Blair (published by Oxford University Press).

The Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award was presented jointly to two authors – Stephen Rutt for his book The Seafarers:  A Journey Among Birds (published by Elliott & Thompson) and Clare Hunter for her Threads of Life (published by Sceptre/Hodder & Stoughton).

The panel of Judges for this Award were taken by Rutt’s personal journey from an overwhelming job to being among seabirds, “the book’s transportative aspect means the reader not only learns new things but experiences them”.

On Threads of Life they commented, “A work that weaves the political, communal and complex history of needlecraft. Hunter shares her personal relationship to this craft while shining a light on an often-overlooked aspect of the creative arts, one brilliantly stitched into women’s history, and larger global politics.”

Sarah Mason, Programme Director for the Saltire Society, said: “Scotland’s National Book Awards 2019 have again shown the astounding literary talent of Scotland and we congratulate all our recipients and shortlistees. As well as being a vital opportunity for the Saltire Society and its partners to celebrate and recognise creativity in literature and publishing, the Awards raise their wider profile both nationally and internationally.

“Our special congratulations go to our inaugural Lifetime Achievement recipient, Alasdair Gray, whose influence runs deep within Scotland and much further afield. We are delighted to be able to recognise his contribution in this way.

“The breadth of talent shown by the winners of the Saltire Society’s Awards show that Scotland’s literary scene is in very safe, very gifted hands. “

Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community was selected as The Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year by a panel of judges from the winners of the five Literary Awards.

The judges found its accessibility in subject and in its writing profound. The fact that it is an important, significant piece of research did not discolour its enjoyability, with laugh out loud moments and fascinating facts. The judges felt a warmth from it and to it.

The National Library of Scotland support the Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year, and The National Library of Scotland’s Associate Director of Collections and Research, Robin Smith said: “It’s not every day the winner of the research category scoops the overall Saltire prize, which demonstrates just what a compelling and important read Ms Blair’s work is. Research adds to our collective understanding of the world around us, and sharing the resultant knowledge is just as important as the activity itself. We encourage and promote research on every subject imaginable at the National Library, and we’re delighted to continue to support this award.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland’s distinguished literary culture is a notable part of our national identity and the Saltire Literary Awards do an excellent job of recognising our talented writers and authors. I’d like to offer my warmest congratulations to all of the award winners.”

Winner of the inaugural Saltire Society Lifetime Achievement Award Alasdair Gray, who was born in 1934, graduated in design and mural painting from Glasgow School of Art.  His acclaimed first novel, Lanark, written over almost 30 years, was described by The Guardian as ‘one of the landmarks of 20th-century fiction’.

Since the publication of Lanark in 1981 he has written, designed and illustrated seven novels, including Poor Things which won him a Whitbread Novel Award and Guardian Fiction Prize. several books of short stories, a collection of his stage, radio and TV plays and a book of his visual art, A Life in Pictures.

The Saltire Society judges commented, “Before the publication of Lanark, Alasdair Gray was best known for his painting. A seminal piece, Lanark is often referred to as the Glasgow Ulysses. This, however, was not a one-off masterpiece. For over 40 years, Alasdair Gray’s plentiful and diverse work has influenced writers and the literary scene worldwide.

Mairi Kidd, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing, Creative Scotland said: “In awarding the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award to Alasdair Gray, the Saltire Literary Awards have recognised a true iconoclast. Gray‘s work blazed a trail for rich and experimental Scottish writing, and this year’s winners list is packed with precisely that. Gray, of course, is a polymath with an incredible body of illustration, visual art and design to his name; it, therefore, seems particularly apt that the Awards should recognise book design for the first time this year. Congratulations to Alasdair, Kirstie, and all the other winners.”

Two publishing Awards were presented – The Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year was awarded to Sandstone Press, based in Inverness who have provided a platform for Scottish subjects and taken risks with translated fiction, resulting in publishing the winner of this year’s Man Booker International Prize.  404 Ink was Highly Commended.

The Saltire Society Emerging Publisher of the Year Award, presented in partnership with Publishing Scotland, was awarded jointly to Kay Farrell of Sandstone Press and Alan Windram of Little Door Press.  Jamie Norman of Canongate books was Highly Commended.

In a new Award for 2019 The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada (translated by Chris Andrews), published by Charco Press and designed by Pablo Font was awarded The Saltire Society Scottish Book Cover of the Year, with judges saying, “The design echoes the story within while allowing the viewer room to take from it their own meaning. The use of colour and an evocative image creates a strong, bold cover.”

Finally, The Calum Macdonald Memorial Award for the publisher of an outstanding example of pamphlet poetry published during the previous year was won by Sarah Stewart for Tapsalteerie, Glisk. This Award is administered by the Scottish Poetry Library and it is the first time it has been presented as part of the Saltire Society Literary Awards.

The winners of each category received a bespoke Award created by Inverness based-artist Simon Baker of Evergreen Studios and a cash remuneration.

December 2, 2019

Scotland’s National Book Awards Shortlist Announced

The Saltire Society has announced the shortlists for the 2019 Saltire Literary Awards, as well as two brand new prizes.  This year, for the first time, the Saltire Society will be awarding a prize for Scottish Book Cover and a special Award for Lifetime Achievement.   The winners of all eleven prizes, and the Saltire Book of the Year, will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh on Saturday 30 November.

Widely regarded as Scotland’s national book awards, The Saltire Literary Awards recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and two publishing categories (Publisher and Emerging Publisher). The Literary Awards see the winner of each book Award receive a cash prize of £2,000 and go on to be considered for the top prize of Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £5,000.

The new Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to an individual who has made a meaningful creative contribution to the world of literature. With the very first Saltire Literary Awards taking place in 1937, the Society decided it was an appropriate time to recognise a body of work rather than one book, something that is not currently part of the publishing timeline.  The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates a writers’ work in its entirety and comes with a cash prize of £2,000.

Scottish Book Cover Award celebrates the enormous talent Scotland has in book production and design.  This Award and its recipient will exemplify creativity and the relationship between the designer, the publisher and author.  The shortlist for this Award will be announced in early November.

Sarah Mason, Programme Director at the Saltire Society, said:

“We are proud of the fact that the Saltire Literary Awards shortlists celebrate the diversity, quality and richness of books to come from Scotland over the past year. The Saltire Literary Awards have a proud history of celebrating and bringing wider attention to excellence and we congratulate the writers and publishers who have been shortlisted this year. With the introduction of the Book Cover Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award, we believe Scotland’s National Book Awards truly celebrate Scotland’s literary landscape. We look forward to celebrating our shortlistees and winners on St Andrew’s Day at our largest celebration ever.

The Awards have had an eye for early talent with internationally renowned writers including Ali Smith, AL Kennedy, Kate Clanchy, Louise Welsh and Michel Faber being some who have been celebrated by the Saltire Society for their debut books in previous years.    404 Ink, winners of the Emerging Publisher Award in 2017 are shortlisted for Publisher of the Year Award in 2019.  Submissions for the Awards this year have come from publishers across Scotland and the UK and as far afield as MIT in the USA. All entrants must be born in Scotland, live in Scotland or their books must be about Scotland.

Shortlisted books for 2019 include Threads of Life (Sceptre) by Claire Hunter in the First Book Category to Dr David Wilson’s My Life with Murderers (Little Brown) in Non-Fiction, seemingly disparate topics but both relevant to current Scottish culture.  Thee Gaelic books have made the shortlist – Còig Duilleagan na Seamraig (Five Leaves of the Shamrock) by Ruairidh MacIlleathain (published by CLÀR) in the Fiction category, Seòl Mo Bheatha (My Life Journey) by Dòmhnall Eachann Meek (also published by CLÀR) in the Non-Fiction category and the bi-lingual Ceum air cheum/Step by Step (published by Acair) in Poetry.

Kindly reproduced from Saltire Society’s website

October 29, 2019