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05 December 2021

Scotland's National Book Awards shortlists 2021

16 November 2021

The Saltire Society has announced the shortlists for Scotland's National Book Awards 2021 and we are delighted to see so many of our members on them (highlighted in bold below). The winners of all ten prizes, as well as the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year and the recipient of the second Lifetime Achievement Award, will be announced at a ceremony in Glasgow on Saturday 27 November 2021. 

2021 Scotland's National Book of the Year Awards SHORTLISTS in full


Scotland's National Book Awards Publisher of the Year in partnership with Publishing Scotland

  • 404 Ink
  • Scotland Street Press
  • Charco Press
  • Canongate Books


Scotland's National Book Awards Emerging Publisher of the Year in partnership with Publishing Scotland

  • Bethany Ferguson, Rights Executive, Canongate Books
  • Jamie Norman, Campaigns Executive, Canongate Books
  • Ceris Jones, Campaigns Manager, Sandstone Press
  • Louise Hutton, Assistant Editor, Edinburgh University Press

Scotland's National Book Awards Book Cover of the Year

  • Craig Paton for Killtopia by Dave Cook (BHP Comics)
  • Cavan Convery & Ryan McGoverne for It's About Time by Lesley Storm (Leamington Books)
  • Iain McIntosh (Illustrations), Abigail Salvesen (Design) for In a Time of Distance by Alexander McCall Smith (Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn)
  • Andrew Latimer for Apocalypse: An Anthology Edited by James Keery (Carcanet Press)
  • Pablo Font for Fate by Jorge Consiglio (Charco Press)
  • Pablo Font for The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Charco Press)



Scotland's National Book Awards Poetry Book of the Year

  • Peter Mackay, Nàdar De | Some Kind of (Acair)
  • Owen Gallagher, Clydebuilt (Smokestack Books)
  • Thomas A Clark, The Threadbare Coat (Carcanet Press)
  • Daisy Lafarge, Life Without Air (Granta)
  • Andrew Greig, Later That Day (Polygon)
  • Garry Mackenzie, Ben Dorain:  a conversation with a mountain (The Irish Pages Press) 

Scotland's National Book Awards First Book of the Year

  • Vanessa Harryhausen, Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema (National Galleries of Scotland Publishing)
  • Graeme Armstrong, The Young Team (Pan MacMillan/Picador)
  • Elle McNicoll, A Kind of Spark (Knights Of)
  • Roddy Murray, Bleak: the mundane comedy (Saraband)
  • Aoife Lyall, Mother, Nature (Bloodaxe Books)
  • Keith Broomfield, If Rivers Could Sing (Tippermuir Books)


Scotland's National Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year

  • David F Ross, There's Only One Danny Garvey (Orenda Books)
  • Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (Pan Macmillan/Picador)
  • Jenni Fagan, Luckenbooth (Penguin Randomhouse)
  • Kirstin Innes, Scabby Queen (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins)
  • Ely Percy, Duck Feet (Monstrous Regiment Publishing Ltd)


Scotland's National Book Awards Non-Fiction Book of the Year

  • Patrick Laurie, Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape (Birlinn Ltd)
  • Cal Flyn, Islands of Abandonment (William Collins)
  • Tom Wood, Ruxton: The First Modern Murder (Ringwood Publishing)
  • Shelly Klein, The See-Through House: My Father in Full Colour (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, Penguin Randomhouse UK)
  • Peter Ross, A Tomb With a View (Headline Publishing Group)
  • Joe Donnelly, Checkpoint (404 Ink)

 Special Mention: Kenneth Roy, In Case of Any News (ICS Books)


Scotland's National Book Awards Research Book of the Year supported by the National Library of Scotland

  • Wilson McLeod, Gaelic in Scotland: Policies, Movements, Ideologies (Edinburgh University Press)
  • Ian Armit & Lindsey Buster, Darkness Visible: The Sculptor's Cave, Covesea, from the Bronze Age to the Picts (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)
  • Frank Rennie, The Changing Outer Hebrides (Acair)
  • Nigel Leask, Stepping Westward: Writing the Highland Tour c 1720-1830 (Oxford University Press)
  • Richard Whatmore, Terrorists, Anarchists and Republicans:  The Genevans and the Irish in Time of Revolution (Princeton University Press)


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

  • Ness Historical Society Editorial Team with Rachel Barrowman, History with Heart and Soul (Acair)
  • Ewan Biggs, Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland (University of London Press)
  • Laura Stewart and Janay Nugent, Union and Revolution:  Scotland and Beyond 1625-1745 (Edinburgh University Press)
  • Fiona Edmonds, Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom: The Golden Age and the Viking Age (Boydell & Brewer)
  • Richard Oram, David I: King of Scots 1124-1153 (Birlinn Ltd)
  • Maria Hayward, Stuart Style: Monarchy, Dress and the Scottish Male Elite (Yale University Press) 

Calum Macdonald Memorial Award Shortlist: Stichill Marigold, Broken Sleep, Roncadora Press, Tapsalteerie, Stewed Rhubarb and Mariscat Press.


Scotland's National Book Awards, co-ordinated by the Saltire Society, recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and three publishing categories (Publisher, Emerging Publisher and Cover Design).  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 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. There are also three industry awards; Publisher of the Year and Emerging Publisher of the Year which are presented in partnership with Publishing Scotland and Book Cover of the Year which celebrates the enormous talent in Scottish design and the importance of the relationship between the designer, publisher and author.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, first awarded to Alasdair Gray in 2019, will be presented to an individual who has made a meaningful creative contribution to the world of literature.  Nominees for the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award have been put forward by members of the public, and every name suggested has been considered by the panel of judges. The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the individual's work in its entirety and comes with a cash prize of £2,000.

National Book Awards have been awarded by the Saltire Society since 1937 and in 2021 are supported by The Turtleton Charitable Trust.  All entrants must be born in Scotland, live in Scotland or their books must be about Scotland.



The winners of each category will receive a bespoke Award created by Inverness-based artist Simon Baker of Evergreen Studios. Winners of all the Awards will be announced at a ceremony at Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow on the evening of Saturday 27 November attended by the judges, shortlisted authors and publishers. The ceremony will be live-streamed and tickets to watch online are available from Wednesday 17 November on



As part of Book Week Scotland, The Saltire Society is proud to present two of the brilliant new voices in Scottish literature - Graeme Armstrong and Vanessa Harryhausen - both shortlisted for the First Book Award, in an online conversation with Niall Campbell on Wednesday 17 November at 7.30pm. The Webinar is free to join following advance registration via