Forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black has won this year’s £6,000 Saltire Book of the Year award for All That Remains: A Life in Death (Transworld), whilst Canongate picked up the prize for publisher of the year.
Black’s All That Remains, which was also named non-fiction book of the year, explores death as experienced through her three decades’ career in forensic science, whether that be in the laboratory, at burial sites, at murder scenes or investigating deaths due to war crimes.
The judges described the book as “curiously uplifting and life-affirming”, saying that “like all good memoirs”, it “reveals as much about the reader as the writer”.
The Saltire Literary Awards are supported by Creative Scotland and celebrate books and publishing in Scotland. The prizes are awarded across several categories and the winner of each individual book award wins a £2,000 cash prize. Publisher of the year gets £1,000.
Leila Aboulela won the fiction book of the year award for Elsewhere, Home (Saqi Books), a collection of short stories about immigrants at home and abroad, whilst Jay Whittaker’s Wristwatch (Cinnamon Press) was named Saltire Scottish poetry book of the year. The award for research book of the year went to Tom Mole, Professor of english literature and book history at the University of Edinburgh, for What the Victorians made of Romanticism (Princeton University Press), and Lee Wilson accepted the prize for history book of the year for The Drowned and Saved (Birlinn). Mick Kitson won the first book award for his debut novel Sal (Canongate) and Edinburgh-based Carolina Orloff of Charco Press was announced emerging publisher of the year.
Finally, the judges announced a special prize of “most inspiring Saltire first book award winner” to mark 30 years since the first book award category was launched. The winner, chosen by public vote, was Louise Welsh, who won the first book award in 2002 for her debut crime novel The Cutting Room (Canongate).
Saltire Society programme director Sarah Mason said: “From poetry to publishing, fiction to academic studies, extending the length and breadth of the country and far beyond, this year’s Saltire Literary Awards are a testament to the outstanding calibre of modern Scottish literature in all its varied forms. Every one of the individual awards was hotly contested, making the judges’ decisions particularly challenging.”