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Publisher spotlight: Canongate

Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know Edinburgh-based publisher Canongate.

What’s your story?

Founded in 1973, for the last 40+ years Canongate has worked to unearth and amplify the most vital, exciting voices we can find, wherever they come from. We’ve published all kinds of books – thoughtful, upsetting, gripping, beatific, vulgar, chaste, unrepentant, life-changing. We’ve campaigned for causes we believe in and fought court cases to get our authors heard. And twice we’ve won the National Book Awards Publisher of the year. We’re fiercely independent, and committed to unorthodox and innovative publishing.

Tell us about some of your key stories.

With almost fifty years of publishing there are too many to count – but some of our landmark titles include Alasdair Gray’s acclaimed masterpiece Lanark, Yann Martel’s extraordinary Life of Pi (the best-ever-selling Booker winner) and Matt Haig’s heartwarming The Midnight Library, which has spent over a year in the bestseller charts in the UK and US. We’re no strangers to non-fiction either, publishing memoirs by prominent voices such as Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father, nature writing masterpieces like Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain and Samin Nosrat’s ground-breaking cookery classic Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.

What draws you to a story? What makes a good story?

Strength of voice is the most important thing – we want to feel the author’s passion and find ourselves unable to turn away from their story – the best Canongate books are those we just had to read through the night. Every book on our list has to get our entire company excited.

What stories should we look forward to or check out this year?

In the first half of 2022 we’ve got some incredible titles lined up. Dan Pink’s The Power of Regret (February) is an eye-opening analysis of a crucially misunderstood emotion, which draws on global data to explain how looking backwards can move us forwards. In March multi-award-winning Amy Liptrot returns with The Instant, a new memoir about the ecology of heartbreak, the digital space, urban wildlife and the pull of the moon. It’s a luminous exploration of what it’s like to be addicted to love in the 21st century. In June we publish Karen Campbell’s uplifting novel Paper Cup, a profound and touching story about how easy it can be to fall through society’s cracks and what it takes to rebuild a life. We’ll also be publishing the paperback of William McIlvanney & Ian Rankin’s The Dark Remains in June – Willie’s impact on the Scottish crime writing scene cannot be overstated, and it means a great deal to Canongate to be publishing his novel posthumously to such success.

Learn more about Canongate at @canongatebooks and