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06 July 2020

Saltire Society Literary Awards 2019 shortlists

25 October 2019


The Saltire Society announced the shortlists for the 2019 Saltire Literary Awards, as well as two brand new prizes, at Waterstones West End in Edinburgh on 25 October 2019. 

Congratulations to everyone with titles on the lists including our members: Acair (2), Saraband (2), Edinburgh University Press, Tapsalteerie and Vagabond Voices. Edinburgh-based Birlinn also have 3 books on the shortlists. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh on 30 November 2019.

The shortlists in full are: 


The Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2019 

  • Ceum air Cheum by Christopher Whyte (Acair)
  • Hand Over Mouth Music by Janette Ayachi (Pavilion Poetry)
  • I'm a Pretty Circler by Iain Morrison (Vagabond Voices)
  • Line Drawings by Ross Wilson (Smokestack Books)
  • Moder Dy by Roseanne Watt (Polygon)
  • The Games by Harry Josephine Giles (Out-Spoken Press)


The Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year 2019 

  • A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer (Saraband)
  • Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket by Fraser MacDonald (Profile Books)
  • Overlander by Alan Brown (Saraband)
  • The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds by Stephen Rutt (Elliott & Thompson)
  • Threads of Life by Clare Hunter (Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton)

 Special Commendation: Blushing is for Sinners by Tracy Patrick (Clochoderick Press)


The Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year 2019 

  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (Galley Beggar Press)
  • Còig Duilleagan na Seamraig (Five Leaves of the Shamrock) by Ruairidh MacIlleathain (Roddy MacLean) (CLÀR)
  • Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Nina X by Ewan Morrison (Little, Brown Book Group/Fleet imprint)
  • Tiger by Polly Clark (Riverrun Books)
  • You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr (Bloomsbury Publishing)


The Saltire Society Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2019 

  • Seòl Mo Bheatha (My Life Journey) by Dòmhnall Eachann Meek (Donald E. Meek) (CLÀR)
  • Jane Haining: A Life of Love and Courage by Mary Miller (Birlinn Ltd)
  • My Life with Murderers by Dr David Wilson (Sphere)
  • Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy (Picador)
  • The World I Fell Out Of by Melanie Reid (4th Estate)
  • Lowborn: Growing up, getting away and returning to Britain's poorest towns by Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus)


The Saltire Scottish Research Book of the Year 2019 - supported by the National Library of Scotland

  • Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community by Kirstie Blair (Oxford University Press)
  • The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed, 1600-1900 by Thomas Devine (Penguin Random House)
  • Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga by Laura Watts (The MIT Press)


The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year 2019 - supported by the Scottish Historical Review Trust

  • Alexander III: 1249-1286, First Among Equals by Norman H Reid (Birlinn Ltd)
  • Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life by Alasdair Pettinger (Edinburgh University Press)
  • John Law - A Scottish Adventurer of the eighteenth Century by James Buchan (MacLehose Press)
  • The Darkest Dawn by Malcolm Macdonald and Donald John MacLeod (Acair)
  • The Sea Kings: The Late Norse Kingdoms of Man and the Isles c.1066-1275 by R A McDonald (John Campbell)

Special Mention: The Armorial of Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount by Alex Maxwell Findlater (Heraldry Society of Scotland)


Calum Macdonald Memorial Award 2019 shortlist

  • Red Squirrel for Juke Box Jeopardy (Brian Johnstone)
  • Tapsalteerie for Glisk (Sarah Stewart) and An Offering (Stewart Sanderson)
  • Essence Press for zenscotlit (Alan Spence)
  • Bitter Melon Press for Wedding Beasts (Jay G Ying)
  • Polygon for Polygon New Poets: Iona Lee (Iona Lee)


About the 2019 Awards

This year, for the first time, the Saltire Society will be awarding a prize for Scottish Book Cover and a special Award for Lifetime Achievement. The winners of all eleven prizes, and the Saltire Book of the Year, will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh on Saturday 30 November.

Widely regarded as Scotland's national book awards, The Saltire Literary Awards recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and two publishing categories (Publisher and Emerging Publisher). An additional award, The Calum MacDonald Memorial Award for the publisher of an outstanding example of pamphlet poetry published during the previous year, is presented in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library. The Literary Awards see the winner of each book Award 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 £5,000.

The new Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to an individual who has made a meaningful creative contribution to the world of literature. With the very first Saltire Literary Awards taking place in 1937, the Society decided it was an appropriate time to recognise a body of work rather than one book, something that is not currently part of the publishing timeline. The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates a writers' work in its entirety and comes with a cash prize of £2,000.

The Scottish Book Cover Award celebrates the enormous talent Scotland has in book production and design. This Award and its recipient will exemplify creativity and the relationship between the designer, the publisher and author. The shortlist for this Award will be announced in early November.

For more on the Literary Awards, see the Saltire Society website.