Skip to main content

The network for trade,
training and development 

05 April 2020

Saltire Society Literary Awards winners 2019

30 November 2019

This year's 2019 ceremony saw the introduction of two new awards: the inaugural Saltire Society Scottish Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to Alasdair Gray for his contribution to Scottish literature; and the Saltire Society Scottish Book Cover of the Year Award, presented for The Wind That Lays Waste  by Selva Almada (translated by Chris Andrews) and designed by Pablo Font (Charco Press). 

Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community  by Victorian literature and culture expert Kirstie Blair (Oxford University Press) is the winner of the coveted Saltire Society Book of the Year award 2019. It also won Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on 30 November 2019. The category winners were:

  • Nina X by Ewan Morrison (Little Brown Group/Fleet Imprint) won Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year
  • The World I Fell Out Of, a memoir by Melanie Reid (Fourth Estate, Harper Collins) won Saltire Society Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year
  • The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds  by Stephen Rutt (Elliott & Thompson) and Threads of Life  by Clare Hunter (Sceptre/Hodder & Stoughton) were jointly presented Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award
  • Hand Over Mouth Music  by Janette Ayachi (Pavilion Poetry) won Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year
  • Alexander III; 1249-1286, First Among Equals by Norman H Reid (Birlinn) won Saltire Society Scottish History Book of the Year

 

Finally, The Calum Macdonald Memorial Award for the publisher of an outstanding example of pamphlet poetry published during the previous year was won Tapsalteerie for Glisk by Sarah Stewart. This Award is administered by the Scottish Poetry Library and it is the first time it has been presented as part of the Saltire Society Literary Awards.

 

Widely regarded as Scotland's most prestigious book awards, the Saltire Literary Awards are organised by the Saltire Society, a non-political independent charity founded in 1936 which celebrates the Scottish imagination, and are supported by Creative Scotland.

This year the Saltire Literary Awards will be recognising work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book), two publishing categories (Publisher and Emerging Publisher), and two new categories recognising individuals who have made a meaningful contribution to the world of Scottish literature under the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the talent behind book design and production under the Scottish Book Cover Award.

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.

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 shortlists in full are:

Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year Award 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)

 

Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award 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)

 

Saltire Society Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award 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)

 

Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award 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)

 

Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year Award, 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)

 

Saltire Society Scottish History Book of the year Award, 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

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)

 

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