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02 March 2021

As the Women Lay Dreaming wins The Paul Torday Memorial Prize 2020

18 June 2020

Award-winning author and poet Donald S Murray has won the Society of Authors' Paul Torday Memorial Prize for his debut novel As the Women Lay Dreaming, published by Saraband in November 2018.

As the Women Lay Dreaming is based upon the little-known Iolaire tragedy of 1 January 1919 - when a ship bringing WWI servicemen home to the Hebrides sank in Stornoway harbour, killing some 200 people. 

Saraband also announce today that they have signed up Murray's new novel, In a Veil of Mist, which revisits another 20th-century incident in the Outer Hebrides. Islanders on Lewis were unaware that crew members on a Navy ship anchored offshore were conducting top-secret biological weapons trials by experimenting on animals. An accidental release could have caused anything from sickness and pollution to a deadly plague outbreak.

Donald Murray, who spent his childhood on the Isle of Lewis and now lives in Shetland, says: "I am both thrilled and honoured to have won the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, especially against such wonderful competition. I am also humbled and gratified by the warmth of the reception that As the Women Lay Dreaming has received from the people of my home community. Tapadh leibh uile. 'S e urram mòr a tha seo. (Thanks to you all. This is a great honour.)" 

Saraband publisher Sara Hunt says, "I'm absolutely delighted for Donald winning this prestigious award. It's not only a beautifully written first novel, but it's a work of great sensitivity and humanity on an unspeakable disaster that devastated the community he was born into. To have written a critically acclaimed literary novel that has also been so well received there is a remarkable achievement, and the book will be read for generations."

"We are also thrilled to be publishing Donald's next book, another evocative novel exploring an incident in twentieth-century naval history - this time a clandestine and potentially catastrophic germ-warfare trial off the Isle of Lewis."

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize, run by the Society of Authors, celebrates a debut novel by an author over 60.