Irvine Welsh, James Kelman and Jenni Fagan have made the 2016 Saltire Society Literary Awards shortlist announced this evening (20th October) at a special event in Edinburgh, alongside emerging talents Chitra Ramaswamy and Martin MacInnes.
The prize is organised by charity the Saltire Society, which supports the arts and cultural heritage of Scotland. This evening's event was hosted at the Edinburgh West End branch of Waterstones and featured a performance from last year’s winner of the Poetry Book of the Year Award, Ryan van Winkle.
The shortlist for the Fiction Book of the Year award, introduced just last year, features a number of acclaimed authors. It includes the latest novel from 2012 Saltire Book of the Year winner, James Kelman for Dirt Road (Canongate Books).; The Blade Artist (Vintage) by Edinburgh-born Welsh, which plots a new life for Begbie, the hardman of Trainspotting, as an artist and family man living in California; The Sunlight Pilgrims (William Heinemann) by Jenni Fagan, one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists; The Brilliant & Forever (Birlinn) by Kevin MacNeil; Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project (Saraband), also shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize; and This Must be the Place (Tinder Press) from Maggie O’Farrell.
The First Book of the Year award shortlist was was said to be "particularly varied". Shortlisted entires include Scottish lawyer Isabel Buchanan’s biographical account of her time spent as a 23-year-old working on death-row cases in Pakistan in Trials (Vintage); journalist Chitra Ramaswamy’s "beautful, terrifying, and emotional" reflection on her own pregnancy, Expecting (Saraband); a thriller set in South America by Martin MacInnes, Infinite Ground, (Atlas) and This Changes Things (Bloodaxe Books), Claire Askew’s first full collection of poetry, which examines the lives and experiences of socially or economically marginalised women.
The Non-Fiction Book of the Year shortlist consists of James Crawford's study of the world’s greatest lost buildings Fallen Glory (Old Street Publishing); Richard Holloway's A Little History of Religion (Yale University Press); John Kay's Other People’s Money (Profile Books), a tour of the financial world as it has emerged from the wreckage of the 2008 crisis; Amy Liptrot's The Outrun (Canongate Books), recent winner of the Wainwright Golden Beer Prize 2016; and cartography specialist John Moore's Glasgow: Mapping the City (Birlinn).
The Poetry Book of the Year Award was said to be especially "hotly contested", pitting against each other Kathleen Jamie and Don Paterson, two of the 1994 ‘New Generation’ Poets, for The Bonniest Comparie (Picador) and 40 Sonnets (Faber & Faber), respectively, alongside John Glenday for The Golden Mean (Picador), Peter Mackay for Gu Leòr / Galore (Acair Ltd), Vicki Husband for This Far Back Everything Shimmers (Vagabond) and J.O. Morgan, just shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, for Interference Pattern (Jonathan Cape).
Organisers commented on the "rich line-up in the research and history book of this year’s awards", with shortlisted academics and scientists covering a varied range of subjects from nineteenth century whaling to oil exploration in the north sea and a mapped record of the Vikings’ relationship with the island of Islay.
The Saltire Scottish Research Book of the Year Award, supported by the National Library of Scotland, sees the following in contention for the prize: Alan Macniven, The Vikings in Islay: The Place of Names in Hebridean Settlement History (John Donald); Meiko O’ Halloran: James Hogg and British Romanticism: A Kaleidoscopic Art (Palgrave Macmillan); Chesley W. Sanger, Scottish Arctic Whaling (John Donald); David Taylor, The Wild Black Region: Badenoch 1750 – 1800 (John Donald); and Sebastiaan Verweij, The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland: Manuscript Production and Transmission, 1560-1625 (Oxford University Press).
The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award, supported by the Scottish Historical Review Trust shortlists: Robin Noble's blend of natural history and memoir, Castles in the Mist (Saraband); Kinda K Riddell's Shetland and the Great War, commended for its attention to detail (The Shetland Times Ltd); Mike Shepherd's first hand account of searching for oil bearing rock Oil Strike North Sea (Luath Press); Angela Gannon and George Geddes' St Kilda: The Last and Outmost Isle (Historic Environment Scotland); James Hunter's Set Adrift Upon the World (Birlinn Ltd); and Bob Editor Harris' A Tale of Three Cities: The Life and Times of Lord Daer, 1763 – 1794 (John Donald).
The six awards for the 2016 Saltire Literary Awards are each accompanied by a £2,000 cash prize to the winner.
The winning book from each of the awards will go on to compete for the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award and an accompanying £6,000 cash prize, awarded to Michel Faber last year for his novel The Book of Strange New Things (Canongate).
The shortlist for the 2016 Saltire Publisher of the Year Award was revealed alongside the shortlist for a new initiative for 2016, the Saltire Emerging Publisher of the Year Award. It shortlisted Scotland’s largest children’s publisher Floris Books after a "stellar year"; Black and White Publishing, praised for their "willingness to take risks and innovate"; Saraband, which "continues to impress with its strong-list building"; Birlinn for its "consistency, quality of output, and desire to publish the best of Scottish culture"; and National Galleries of Scotland with its "exceptional production values". Individuals shortlisted are Keara Donnachie, Publicity Officer, (Sandstone Press Limited), Laura Waddell, Marketing Manager, (Freight Books), Robbie Guillory, Assistant Publisher, (Freight Books), Leah McDowell, Design and Production Manager, (Floris Books) and Sha Nazir, Publisher / Art Director, (BHP Comics).
As part of Inspiring Scotland programme, announced to celebrate the Saltire Society’s 80th anniversary earlier this year, the winner of the Publisher of the Year Award will receive a fully funded place to the Yale Publishers Course in August 2017, with the winner of the Emerging Publisher of the Year Award to receive a £500 bursary to develop their skills and experience in the industry.
The winners of all six book Awards as well as the two publishing awards will be formally announced at a special ceremony in Edinburgh on 24th November.
Saltire Society executive director, Jim Tough, commented: “Spanning academia, poetry, biography and prose, the sheer scale and variety of writing talent to be seen in the shortlists is remarkable. As always, excellence is evident across all awards and I know the judges will have their work cut out to decide upon winners.
“The Saltire Society Literary Awards have a proud history of celebrating and bringing wider attention to excellence in all literary forms and I would like to offer my congratulations to every writer who has made it onto one of these shortlists and to the publishers presenting their work. I wish them the very best of luck when the awards are announced next month.”