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Scotland’s National Book Awards 2022 shortlists

Four books by member Edinburgh University Press are shortlisted for Scotland’s National Book Awards 2022. They are joined by members Canongate Books with two books, as well as 404 Ink, Acair, Leamington Books, National Galleries Scotland, Saraband, and Studies in Photography who all have one book shortlisted.

This year’s shortlists include books in Gaelic and Scots vernacular, on embroidery, OCD and the lost British summer and stories that take readers from Scotland to Tahiti, the Caribbean and 1930s Berlin.

Scotland’s National Book Awards, co-ordinated by the Saltire Society, recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and three publishing categories (Publisher, Emerging Publisher and Cover Design).  The Literary Awards see the winners each 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 £4,000.

The Scottish National Book Awards have been awarded by the Saltire Society since 1937 and in 2022 are supported by The National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Historical Review Trust.  All entrants must be born in Scotland, live in Scotland or their books must be about Scotland. 

The winners of each category will receive a bespoke Award created by Inverness-based artist Simon Baker of Evergreen Studios.  Winners of all the Awards will be announced at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on the evening of 8 December attended by the judges, shortlisted authors and publishers.  The ceremony will be live-streamed and tickets to watch online are available from 15 November on

The full book lists are:

Fiction Award – Shortlist

Be Guid Tae Yer Mammy by Emma Grae (Unbound)

Blood and Gold by Mara Menzies (Birlinn Ltd)

Cwen by Alice Albinia (Serpents Tail)

News of the Dead by James Robertson (Hamish Hamilton)

The Pharmacist by Rachelle Atalia (Hodder & Stoughton)

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Pan MacMillan)

Non Fiction Award – Shortlist

Alison Watt:  A Portrait without Likeness by Alison Watt (National Galleries Scotland)

Alternatives to Valium by Alastair McKay (Birlinn Ltd)

Homelands by Chitra Ramaswamy (Canongate Books)

One Body by Catherine Simpson (Saraband)

The Eternal Season: A Journey Through Our Changing British Summer by Stephen Rutt (Elliott & Thompson)

Seven Ways to Change the World by Gordon Brown (Simon & Schuster UK)

History Award – Shortlist

Blood Legacy by Alex Renton (Canongate Books)

Mael Coluim III, Canmore by Neil McGuigan (Birlinn Ltd)

R. B. Cunninghame Graham and Scotland: Party, Prose, and Political Aesthetic by Lachlan Gow Munro (Edinburgh University Press)

Slaves and Highlanders: Silenced Histories of Scotland and the Caribbean by David Alston (Edinburgh University Press)

Embroidering Her Truth by Clare Hunter (Sceptre)

Putting the Tea in Britain by Les Wilson (Birlinn Ltd)

Research Award – Shortlist

A Long and Tangled Saga by Bob Chambers (Acair Books)

Ainmean Tuineachaidh Leòdhais /The Settlement Names of Lewis by Richard A V Cox (Clann Tuirc)

Craftworkers in Nineteenth Century Scotland: Making and Adapting in an Industrial Age by Stana Nenadic (Edinburgh University Press)

Recovering Scottish History: John Hill Burton and Scottish National Identity in the Nineteenth Century by Craig Beveridge (Edinburgh University Press)

Surveying the Anthropocene: Environment and Photography Now edited by Patricia Macdonald (Studies in Photography)

Scripting the Nation: Court Poetry and the Authority of History in Late Medieval Scotland by Katherine H Terrell (The Ohio State University Press)

Poetry Award – Shortlist

At Least This I Know by Andrés N Ordorica (404 Ink)

Blood Salt Spring by Hannah Lavery (Birlinn Ltd)

How to Burn a Woman by Claire Askew (Bloodaxe Books)

Polaris by Marcas Mac an Tuairneir (Leamington Books)

The Luna Erratum by Maria Sledmere (Dostoyevsky Wannabe)

First Book Award – Shortlist

A Sky Full of Kites by Tom Bowser (Birlinn Ltd)

I Am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam (Bluemoose Books)

In: The Graphic Novel by Will McPhail (Sceptre)

Limbo by Georgi Gill (Blue Diode Press)

The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley by Sean Lusk (Transworld)

The Voids by Ryan O’Connor (Scribe Publications)

Other awards

In addition to the National Book Awards, the Saltire Society presents three other industry awards; Publisher of the Year and Emerging Publisher of the Year which are presented in partnership with Publishing Scotland and Book Cover of the Year which celebrates the enormous talent in Scottish design and the importance of the relationship between the designer, publisher and author.  Shortlists for these awards will be announced on 1 December.

The Ross Roy Medal, commemorating the outstanding contribution to Scottish literature made by Professor G. Ross Roy of South Carolina University, is awarded annually to the best PhD thesis submitted on a subject relating to Scottish literature and judged by the University Committee for Scottish Literature.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is for individuals who have made and are making a lasting impact and are imbedded in the literary culture of Scotland.  Nominees must be either born in Scotland, are currently living in Scotland or working in or for Scotland.  The Award was open to online public nominations from May until 15 August.  The Awardee will be decided by a panel of individuals from the literary community.