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18 September 2021

Booker Prize

The Booker Prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The £50,000 prize is the world's most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers.

For an interesting article about Scottish authors and books that made the Booker shortlist, see the National Library of Scotland website.



Douglas Stuart, a Glaswegian writer based in the United States, is the winner of the Booker Prize 2020 for his debut novel Shuggie Bain (Picador).



James Kelman was the first Scot to win the Booker Prize for How Late it Was, How Late (first published by Secker & Warburg) in 1994. Douglas Stuart, a Glaswegian writer based in the United States, won in 2020 for his debut novel Shuggie Bain (Picador).

Others who have been listed are:

  • Muriel Spark shortlisted for The Public Image (Macmillan) in 1969; The Driver's Seat (Penguin) in 1970; and Loitering with Intent (Bodley Head) in 1981
  • Gordon Williams shortlisted for From Scenes Like These (Secker & Warburg) in 1969.
  • William Boyd (who regards himself as a Scottish writer) was shortlisted for An Ice-Cream War in 1982; and longlisted for Any Human Heart in 2002 (both published by Hamish Hamilton)
  • James Kelman shortlisted for Disaffection (Secker & Warburg) in 1989 and won for How Late it Was, How Late (Secker & Warburg) in 1994
  • George Mackay Brown shortlisted for Beside The Ocean of Time (John Murray) in 1996
  • Shena Mackay shortlisted for The Orchard on Fire (Heinemann) in 1996
  • Andrew O'Hagan shortlisted for Our Fathers in 1999 and longlisted for The Illuminations in 2015 (both Faber & Faber)
  • Ali Smith shortlisted for Hotel World in 2001; The Accidental in 2005; How to Be Both in 2014 and Autumn in 2017 (all published by Hamish Hamilton)
  • A L Kennedy longlisted for Serious Sweet (Jonathan Cape) in 2016
  • Graeme Macrae Burnet shortlisted for His Bloody Project (Contraband) in 2016
  • Robin Robertson shortlisted for The Long Take (Picador) in 2018
  • Douglas Stuart shortlisted for Shuggie Bain (Picador) in 2020


A book published in the UK by Edinburgh-based Canongate Books won in 2002. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (first published in Canada) is to date the biggest-selling Booker winner. It was also made into an Oscar-winning film. Other books published by Canongate have been shortlisted:

  • The Secret River by Kate Grenville (2006)
  • Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland (2006)
  • The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (2012) (which won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2013)
  • The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (2020).

and longlisted

  • Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch (2011)
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013)
  • Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (2017)
  • Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (2019).

Contraband (an imprint of Saraband)

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet was on the 2016 shortlist.

Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer was shortlisted in 1993. The Edinburgh-based publisher was then an imprint of Edinburgh University Press but is now an imprint of Birlinn.

Sandstone Press
This small Inverness-based publisher has had two books longlisted:

  • The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers in 2011, and
  • The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris in 2013.

In 2019 a book published by Sandstone Press won the Man Booker International Prize 2019Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth from Arabic.


The Salamander Press
This Edinburgh publishing house (1981-1993) published Flying to Nowhere by John Fuller which was shortlisted in 1983.


NOTE: If you know of any Scottish writers or publishers we've missed, please email us with the details at