Ellmann and Barr make Saltire Literary Awards shortlist as new prizes introduced

Ellmann and Barr make Saltire Literary Awards shortlist as new prizes introduced

Booker nominated Lucy Ellmann and journalist Damian Barr have made the shortlist for the 2019 Saltire Literary Awards [full shortlists below], which this year will feature two brand new prizes. 

For the first time, the Saltire Society will be awarding a prize for Scottish Book Cover and a special Award for Lifetime Achievement. The new £2,000 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. 

Ellmann's Booker-shortlisted Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press) will go head to head with Barr's debut novel You Will Be Safe Here (Bloomsbury) for the Scottish Fiction Book of the Year Award, while 404 Ink, winners of the Emerging Publisher Award in 2017 are shortlisted for Publisher of the Year Award this year. 

Shortlisted books for 2019 include Threads of Life (Sceptre) by Claire Hunter in the First Book Category and Dr David Wilson’s My Life with Murderers (Little Brown) in Non-Fiction. Three Gaelic books have made the shortlist - Còig Duilleagan na Seamraig (Five Leaves of the Shamrock) by Ruairidh MacIlleathain (CLÀR) in the Fiction category and CLÀR stablemate Seòl Mo Bheatha (My Life Journey) by Dòmhnall Eachann Meek in the Non-Fiction category and Ceum air Cheum by Christopher Whyte (Acair), a collection in both English and Gaelic in the Poetry category. Also on the Poetry Award shortlist is Roseanne Watt’s Shetlandic/English collection Moder Dy (Polygon).

The awards recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and two publishing categories (Publisher and Emerging Publisher) as well as the Calum MacDonald Memorial Award. 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 Saltire Literary Awards are supported by Creative Scotland.  Mairi Kidd, Creative Scotland’s head of literature, languages and publishing said: “From Melanie Reid, Kate Clanchy and Damian Barr to Lucy Ellman, Polly Clark and Kerry Hudson, the 2019 Saltire Literary Awards shortlists again demonstrate the wealth of established writing talent in Scotland across all genres and the Saltire Society’s ongoing commitment to uncovering the major voices of the future. The new Awards for cover design and poetry pamphlets will be welcomed by Scotland’s industrious publishers and the Lifetime Achievement Award offers a great opportunity to mark the body of work of a very significant writer.”

Sarah Mason, programme director at the Saltire Society, added: “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 recognising excellence and bringing this to wider attention 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 welcoming our shortlistees and winners on St Andrew's Day at our largest Awards Ceremony ever.”

The winners of each category will receive a bespoke award created by Inverness based-artist Simon Baker of Evergreen Studios. The winners of all eleven prizes, and the Saltire Book of the Year, will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh on Saturday 30th November.  Tickets to the event are available from Friday 1st November. 

Full shortlists below: 

The Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year Award

Lucy Ellmann, Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)

Ruairidh MacIlleathain (Roddy MacLean), Còig Duilleagan na Seamraig (Five Leaves of the Shamrock) (CLÀR)

Leila Aboulela, Bird Summons (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Ewan Morrison, Nina X (Fleet)

Polly Clark, Tiger (Riverrun Books)

Damian Barr, You Will Be Safe Here (Bloomsbury Publishing)


The Saltire Society Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award

Dòmhnall Eachann Meek (Donald E. Meek), Seòl Mo Bheatha (My Life Journey) (CLÀR)

Mary Miller, Jane Haining: A Life of Love and Courage (Birlinn Ltd)

Dr David Wilson, My Life with Murderers (Sphere)

Kate Clanchy, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me (Picador)

Melanie Reid, The World I Fell Out Of (4th Estate)

Kerry Hudson, Lowborn: Growing up, getting away and returning to Britain's poorest towns (Chatto & Windus)


The Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award

Angela Meyer, A Superior Spectre (Saraband)

Fraser MacDonald, Escape from Earth:  A Secret History of the Space Rocket (Profile Books)

Alan Brown, Overlander (Saraband)

Stephen Rutt, The Seafarers:  A Journey Among Birds (Elliott & Thompson)

Clare Hunter, Threads of Life (Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton))

Special CommendationTracy Patrick, Blushing is for Sinners (Clochoderick Press)


The Saltire Scottish Research Book of the Year Award supported by the National Library of Scotland

Kirstie Blair, Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community (Oxford University Press)

Thomas Devine, The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed, 1600-1900 (Penguin Random House)

Laura Watts, Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga (The MIT Press)


The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award supported by the Scottish Historical Review Trust

Norman H Reid, Alexander III: 1249-1286, First Among Equals (Birlinn Ltd)

Alasdair Pettinger, Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life (Edinburgh University Press)

James Buchan, John Law  A Scottish Adventurer of the Eighteenth Century (MacLehose Press)

Malcolm Macdonald and Donald John MacLeod, The Darkest Dawn (Acair)

R A McDonald, The Sea Kings: The Late Norse Kingdoms of Man and the Isles c.1066–1275 (John Campbell)


Special Mention:  Alex Maxwell Findlater, The Armorial of Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount (Heraldry Society of Scotland)


Calum Macdonald Memorial Award

Brian Johnstone, Juke Box Jeopardy (Red Squirrel)

Sarah Stewart, Glisk (Tapsalteerie) 

Stewart Sanderson, An Offering (Tapsalteerie) 

Alan Spence, zenscotlit (Essence Press)

Jay G Ying, Wedding Beasts (Bitter Melon Press)

Iona Less, Polygon New Poets: Iona Lee (Polygon)


Publishing Awards

The Saltire Society Publisher of the Year Award in partnership with Publishing Scotland

404 Ink

BHP Comics

Canongate Books

Charco Press

Sandstone Press


The Saltire Society Emerging Publisher of the Year Award in partnership with Publishing Scotland

Pauline Cuchet, Canongate Books

Anne Glennie, Cranachan

Kay Farrell, Sandstone Press

Jamie Norman, Canongate Books

Richard Wainman, Floris Books

Alan Windram, Little Door Books