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Scotland’s National Book Awards 2021 winners

Congratulations to the winners of Scotland’s National Book Awards 2021. Among the winners this year were our members: Canongate Books, Monstrous Regiment Publishing Ltd, Saraband, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Ceris Jones and Jamie Norman. The winners of all ten prizes, as well as the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year and the recipient of the second Lifetime Achievement Award, were announced on Saturday 27 November 2021. For more information about the awards and the winners, see the Saltire Society website.

2021 Scotland’s National Book of the Year Awards WINNERS and shortlists

Our members are highlighted in bold below.


The recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award is Douglas Dunn  a major Scottish poet, editor and critic.


Scotland’s National Book Awards Publisher of the Year in partnership with Publishing Scotland

  • Canongate Books (WINNER)
  • Charco Press (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
  • 404 Ink
  • Scotland Street Press

Scotland’s National Book Awards Emerging Publisher of the Year in partnership with Publishing Scotland

  • Ceris Jones, Campaigns Manager, Sandstone Press (JOINT WINNER)
  • Jamie Norman, Campaigns Executive, Canongate Books (JOINT WINNER)
  • Bethany Ferguson, Rights Executive, Canongate Books
  • Louise Hutton, Assistant Editor, Edinburgh University Press

Scotland’s National Book Awards Book Cover of the Year 

  • Pablo Font for Fate by Jorge Consiglio (Charco Press) (WINNER)
  • Craig Paton for Killtopia by Dave Cook (BHP Comics)
  • Cavan Convery & Ryan McGoverne for It’s About Time by Lesley Storm (Leamington Books)
  • Iain McIntosh (Illustrations), Abigail Salvesen (Design) for In a Time of Distance by Alexander McCall Smith (Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn)
  • Andrew Latimer for Apocalypse: An Anthology Edited by James Keery (Carcanet Press)
  • Pablo Font for The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Charco Press)


Book of the Year

  • Ely Percy, Duck Feet (Monstrous Regiment Publishing Ltd). The Book of the Year is selected from the category winners and this year’s winner also won the Fiction Book of the Year.

Poetry Book of the Year 

  • Daisy Lafarge, Life Without Air (Granta) (WINNER)
  • Peter Mackay, Nàdar De | Some Kind of (Acair)
  • Owen Gallagher, Clydebuilt (Smokestack Books)
  • Thomas A Clark, The Threadbare Coat (Carcanet Press)
  • Andrew Greig, Later That Day (Polygon)
  • Garry Mackenzie, Ben Dorain:  a conversation with a mountain (The Irish Pages Press) 

First Book of the Year 

  • Roddy Murray, Bleak: the mundane comedy (Saraband) (WINNER)
  • Vanessa Harryhausen, Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema (National Galleries of Scotland Publishing)
  • Graeme Armstrong, The Young Team (Pan MacMillan/Picador)
  • Elle McNicoll, A Kind of Spark (Knights Of)
  • Aoife Lyall, Mother, Nature (Bloodaxe Books)
  • Keith Broomfield, If Rivers Could Sing (Tippermuir Books)

Fiction Book of the Year

  • Ely Percy, Duck Feet (Monstrous Regiment Publishing Ltd) (WINNER)
  • David F Ross, There’s Only One Danny Garvey (Orenda Books)
  • Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (Pan Macmillan/Picador)
  • Jenni Fagan, Luckenbooth (Penguin Randomhouse)
  • Kirstin Innes, Scabby Queen (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins)

Non-Fiction Book of the Year

  •  Peter Ross, A Tomb With a View (Headline Publishing Group) (WINNER)
  • Patrick Laurie, Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape (Birlinn Ltd)
  • Cal Flyn, Islands of Abandonment (William Collins)
  • Tom Wood, Ruxton: The First Modern Murder (Ringwood Publishing)
  • Shelly Klein, The See-Through House: My Father in Full Colour (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, Penguin Randomhouse UK)
  • Joe Donnelly, Checkpoint (404 Ink)

 Special Mention at shortlist stage: Kenneth Roy, In Case of Any News (ICS Books)

Research Book of the Year supported by the National Library of Scotland

  • Ian Armit & Lindsey Buster, Darkness Visible: The Sculptor’s Cave, Covesea, from the Bronze Age to the Picts (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland) (WINNER)
  • Wilson McLeod, Gaelic in Scotland: Policies, Movements, Ideologies (Edinburgh University Press)
  • Frank Rennie, The Changing Outer Hebrides (Acair)
  • Nigel Leask, Stepping Westward: Writing the Highland Tour c 1720-1830 (Oxford University Press)
  • Richard Whatmore, Terrorists, Anarchists and Republicans:  The Genevans and the Irish in Time of Revolution (Princeton University Press)

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

  • Maria Hayward, Stuart Style: Monarchy, Dress and the Scottish Male Elite (Yale University Press) (WINNER)
  • Ness Historical Society Editorial Team with Rachel Barrowman, History with Heart and Soul (Acair)
  • Ewan Biggs, Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland (University of London Press)
  • Laura Stewart and Janay Nugent, Union and Revolution:  Scotland and Beyond 1625-1745 (Edinburgh University Press)
  • Fiona Edmonds, Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom: The Golden Age and the Viking Age (Boydell & Brewer)
  • Richard Oram, David I: King of Scots 1124-1153 (Birlinn Ltd)

Calum Macdonald Memorial Award :

  • Roncadora Press (WINNER)
  • Stichill Marigold
  • Broken Sleep
  • Tapsalteerie,
  • Stewed Rhubarb
  • Mariscat Press.

Ross Roy Medal

Nia Clark – PhD candidate, University of Glasgow (2021). Title of thesis: ‘[N]ew connections strung out over time’: a study of Liz Lochhead’s poetry and drama from 1972-2016.

National Book Awards have been awarded by the Saltire Society since 1937 and in 2021 are supported by The Turtleton Charitable Trust.  All entrants must be born in Scotland, live in Scotland or their books must be about Scotland.