Winning an award can make a big difference to the author and publisher – ideally in sales as well as raising their profiles!
Scotland’s National Book Awards (run by the Saltire Society) celebrate Scottish publishers as well as books. Other awards for Scottish books include the Highland Book Prize, the Gaelic Literature Awards and the Scots Language Awards.
The Booker Prize
There are many awards open to UK based publishers and to English language publishers. In the latter category, the one with the most impact is The Booker Prize and we’ve set out below the Scottish writers and publishers that have won or featured in its shortlists and longlists.
The Booker Prize is the leading literary award in the English speaking world. Each year, the prize is awarded to what is, in the opinion of the judges, the best sustained work of fiction written in English and published in the UK and Ireland. It is a prize that transforms the winner’s career. Both the winner and the shortlisted authors are guaranteed a global readership and can expect a dramatic increase in book sales.
Scottish writers and the Booker Prize
James Kelman was the first Scot to win the Booker Prize for How Late it Was, How Late (first published by Secker & Warburg) in 1994. Douglas Stuart, a Glaswegian writer based in the United States, won in 2020 for his debut novel Shuggie Bain (Picador).
The Scottish writers shortlisted or longlisted are:
- A L Kennedy longlisted for Serious Sweet (Jonathan Cape) in 2016
- Ali Smith shortlisted for Hotel World in 2001; The Accidental in 2005; How to Be Both in 2014 and Autumn in 2017 (all published by Hamish Hamilton)
- Andrew O’Hagan shortlisted for Our Fathers in 1999 and longlisted for The Illuminations in 2015 (both Faber & Faber)
- Douglas Stuart shortlisted for Shuggie Bain (Picador) in 2020
- George Mackay Brown shortlisted for Beside The Ocean of Time (John Murray) in 1996
- Gordon Williams shortlisted for From Scenes Like These (Secker & Warburg) in 1969.
- Graeme Macrae Burnet shortlisted for His Bloody Project (Contraband) in 2016, and longlisted for Case Study (Saraband) in 2022.
- James Kelman shortlisted for Disaffection (Secker & Warburg) in 1989 and won for How Late it Was, How Late (Secker & Warburg) in 1994
- Muriel Spark shortlisted for The Public Image (Macmillan) in 1969; The Driver’s Seat (Penguin) in 1970; and Loitering with Intent (Bodley Head) in 1981
- Robin Robertson shortlisted for The Long Take (Picador) in 2018
- Shena Mackay shortlisted for The Orchard on Fire (Heinemann) in 1996
- William Boyd (who regards himself as a Scottish writer) was shortlisted for An Ice-Cream War in 1982; and longlisted for Any Human Heart in 2002 (both published by Hamish Hamilton)
American-born Lucy Ellmann, who is a long-time resident of Edinburgh, was shortlisted for Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press) in 2019.
Scottish publishers with books on the list
A book published in the UK by Edinburgh-based Canongate Books won in 2002. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (first published in Canada) is to date the biggest-selling Booker winner. It was also made into an Oscar-winning film. Other books published by Canongate have been shortlisted:
- The Secret River by Kate Grenville (2006)
- Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland (2006)
- The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (2012) (which won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2013)
- The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (2020).
- Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch (2011)
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013)
- Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (2017)
- Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (2019).
Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer was shortlisted in 1993. The Edinburgh-based publisher was then an imprint of Edinburgh University Press but is now an imprint of Birlinn.
This small Highlands-based publisher has had two books longlisted:
- The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers in 2011, and
- The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris in 2013.
In 2019 a book published by Sandstone Press won the Man Booker International Prize 2019: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth from Arabic.
The Salamander Press
This Edinburgh publishing house (1981–1993) published Flying to Nowhere by John Fuller which was shortlisted in 1983.
NOTE: If you know of any Scottish writers or publishers we’ve missed, please email us with the details at email@example.com.
SEE ALSO: For an interesting article about Scottish authors and books that made the Booker shortlist, see the National Library of Scotland website.