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Scottish Arts Council’s Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards

About the Literary Award - Scottish Arts Council’s Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards  – is Scotland’s richest book awards, and the fourth largest in the UK. The Awards, started in 1970s and have gone from strength to strength, reflecting the growing prominence and prestige of Scottish literature.

Winners of four categories of fiction, literary non-fiction, poetry and first book each receive an award of £5,000, and the opportunity to go forward and have their book considered for the title of Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year 2008, an accolade which will net the author a total prize of £30,000.

The awards are open to authors of Scottish descent or living in Scotland. Books of particular Scottish interest by other authors are eligible. Consideration is given to recently published work by both new and established writers. Submissions should come from publishers only. Previous winners include James Meek (2006); Kathleen Jamie (2005); James Robertson (2004); William Dalrymple ( 2003); Ali Smith ( 2002).

Book of the Year - Donald Worster - A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (Oxford University Press)

2010 category winners comprise:

2009 Book of the Year |2009 Fiction | 2009 Poetry | 2009 Non-ficiton | 2009 First Book | 2008 | 2007 | back to top

£25,000 2009 Scottish Book of the Year

Kieron Smith, Boy , by James Kelman (Hamish Hamilton) -Rejected by his brother and largely ignored by his parents, Kieron Smith finds comfort - and endless stories - in the home of his much-loved grandparents. But when his family move to a new housing scheme on the outskirts of Glasgow...

Other finalists
This is Not About Me by Janice Galloway (Granta) -nonfiction; -Janice Galloway is one of our greatest contemporary authors. This Is Not About Me is the story of her childhood, a world where words and music were joyful secrets and domestic life veered between absurdity and dissolution.With a boozy father...

Dear Alice: Narratives of Madness (Salt Modern Poets) by Tom Pow (Salt Publishing) in poetry; A collection of poetry that explores the imaginative legacy of a nineteenth-century lunatic asylum, the Crichton, drawing on the richly-documented history of the site. It includes the sequence 'Resistances' gathered from female patients' notes.

Moonshine in the Morning by Andrea McNicoll (Alma Books) in the first book category- As sharp and delicious as a Thai red curry, the beautifully crafted interlinking narratives of Moonshine in the Morning present an unforgettable cast of strong-minded women and their wayward husbands clinging to village life in

Thailand before the...

2009 Shortlists

Winner: James Kelman, Kieron Smith, Boy, (Hamish Hamilton)

Kate Atkinson, When Will There be Good News? , (Doubleday)
James Buchan, The Gate of Air: A Ghost Story , (Maclehouse Press)
Beatrice Colin, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite , (John Murray)
Andrew Crumey, Sputnik Caledonia , (Picador)
Meaghan Delahunt, The Red Book , (Granta)
Kei Miller, The Same Earth , (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

 Commenting on the Fiction shortlist Pat Kane on behalf of the judges said:

 “This year has served up a shortlist of Scottish fiction marked by a fierce contemporary intelligence; a stylistic confidence that spans high modernism, ornate realism and low farce; and an easy global range of reference that indicates the ambition of this generation of Scottish writers.”


Winner: Janice Galloway, This is Not About Me (Granta)

Kate Clanchy, Antigona and Me (Picador)
Rodge Glass, Alasdair Gray: A Secretary's Biography (Bloomsbury)
Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence (Granta)

Commenting on the Non-Fiction shortlist, Dr Gavin Wallace on behalf of the judges said:

"What unites these powerfully distinctive works is their bold defiance of categorisationand form as a necessary reflex to equally challenging material, themes, and subjects: the nerve-shredding vulnerability, terror and absurdity of childhood; the trauma of the refugee forming the solace of friendship; the biographer adopting the subersive fictional techniques of his subject to do justice to one of Scotland's greatest artists; a fusion of memoir, analytical essay, philosophical meditation, and provocation driving a passionate quest to reclaim our lost ability to understand silence. These are richly individual, urgently necessary books".


Winner: Tom Pow, Dear Alice: Narratives of Madness (Salt Modern Poets) (Salt Publishing)

Robert Crawford, Full Volume (Jonathan Cape)
Jen Hadfield, Nigh-No-Place (Bloodaxe)
Frank Kuppner, Arioflotga (Carcanet Press)

In addition the judges agreed to make an exceptional commendation for The Lost Leader by Mick Imlah (Faber and Faber), whose death in January 2009 prevented him from being shortlisted.

Commenting on the Poetry shortlist Lillias Fraser on behalf of the judges said :

“The range of the shortlisted poetry collections is specially impressive. There's a vivid sense of physical places, from Dumfries to Shetland by way of Canada or Fife, in the books by Robert Crawford, Jen Hadfield and Tom Pow - while Frank Kuppner's extraordinary booklength poem opens vista after hypnotic vista on the Alternative World of Kuppner.  This writing isn't only describing places in the physical world, but creating ideas of places through the fresh, superbly-crafted poetry:  what does it mean to belong somewhere, to live side by side with history or tradition, but not accept what you see at face value? These four vastly different books are by poets at the top of their game, all using their formidable craft as a rock-steady foundation for adventures in form and imagination.”


Winner: Andrea McNicoll, Moonshine in the Morning (Alma Books)

Elaine di Rollo, The Peachgrowers' Almanac (Chatto)
David Knowles,Meeting the Jet Man (Two Ravens Press)
Greg Michaelson, The Wave Singer (Argyll Publishing)
Andrew Nicoll, The Good Mayor (Black & White Publishing)

Commenting on the First Book shortlist Professor Alan Riach on behalf of the judges said:

“This list is rich in unexpected pleasures: brilliantly accomplished thrillers, gently anecdotal stories, rich historical reconstructions with gripping narratives, lucid travel accounts in Scotland’s less familiar archipelagos. The world, it seems, from Thailand to the Baltic, is becoming increasingly explored by Scottish imaginations, while the under-explored facets of Scottish life and character, contemporary and historical, from Shetland to Aberdeen and Glasgow, are exciting the scrutiny and imaginations of our finest new writers.”

National Poet Wins 2008 Scottish Book of the Year

The poet Edwin Morgan has won the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year award for his latest collection of poetry. The writer and comedian Rory Bremner presented Professor Morgan with the £25,000 award at the Borders Book Festival on June 20th, 2008.

The 87-year-old is Scotland's first Makar, or national poet.

His collection, A Book of Lives, covers issues ranging from the war on terror to the Scottish Parliament's opening. The book also won the Poetry category of this years awards.

A Book of Lives (left) from Carcanet Press, draws together the themes that inform Morgan's world with poems both profound and witty.

Judging panel member Rory Watson commented: ". . . 'the Universe goes from door to door begging for questions. It hates a sullen tongue' writes Edwin Morgan in A Book of Lives, and he more than rises to the challenge in this lively, deep, rambunctious and moving collection of poems. 'I have been right through life like an arrow' he says and then takes us with him in a memorable journey of love and sadness, energy and sheer delight. This is a collection to take your breath away in one minute and to shout for joy the next.

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Smith, Macfarlane, Morgan and McKie Win First Round of Sundial Scottish Arts Council Awards- With Glowing Style

4th April- Ali Smith's (right) Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis has tipped out AL Kennedy's Costa Winner, Day, amongst others, toin the Fiction category of this years awards. Ms. Smith had previously won the 2006 Whitbred Novel Award for The Accidental beating books by bestselling writers Salman Rushdie and Nick Hornby. With this latest win has truely taken her place in the top echelon.

Judging panel member, Janice Galloway, commented that deciding on the fiction winner was somewhat fraught: "This category was a tough call for the judges - that Ali Smith's delightfully reframed telling of the Myth of Iphis won through pays huge tribute to the lacy transparency, sprint-runner pace, sexy fluidity and rigorously deceptive simplicity of its prose. Frothy and packed with unexpected after-kick, Girl meets Boy's blend of heart, head and spirit is a splendid distillation."

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It looks like Robert Mcfarlane is set for a fine start to 2008, taking out the Non-fiction category with his gorgeous book The Wild Places, which, in our view is bound for greater glory.The book is also shortlisted for the Galaxy British Awards.

Wild Places starts by asking the question - are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? Or have we tarmacked, farmed and built ourselves out of wildness? In The Wild Places, Macfarlane embarks on a series of beautifully described journeys in search of the wildness that remains, visiting locations such as Rannoch Moor, the Strathnaver broch and the Isle of Raasay.

Judging panel member Rory Watson commented: "Robert Macfarlane's Wild Places offers a different delight with its journeys to discover 'wildness' in the remote and not so remote parts of Britain. This beautiful book takes us to tree tops, beaches and mountains, to reflect on memory and meaning, along with those who have known remoteness too (George Orwell, Ivor Gurney, Sorley MacLean and many others) as we rediscover a world of animals, forests, stones, feathers and stars in the company of a supremely lyrical writer."

On hearing of his win Robert Macfarlane commented: "I'm absolutely delighted to have won this award; Scotland and the Scottish landscape have been my main subject for as long as I've been writing. To have this recognition from the Scottish Arts Council means a great deal to me."

The final category for First Book, has been won by Jane McKie's (left) beautifully named and designed, Morocco Rococo.This, her first published collection of poetry, takes the reader on journeys through landscapes both exotic and familiar, covering a range of subjects and contexts which are vividly brought to life on the page.

Hearing of her award Jane commented: "I am both surprised and delighted to win the First Book category with Morocco Rococo. I had no idea it was even being considered. It means the world to me as a writer, especially at this comparatively early stage when it's so easy to lose confidence. Actually, it's one of the most wonderful and encouraging surprises I've had!"

Judging Panel member Lilias Fraser commented: 'Jane McKie's poems talk about travel and journeys, and what makes us appreciate the special and the exotic. I thought at first that her style was all about cool restraint, but it's the restraint that creates her most breathtakingly sensuous, subtle, bewitching poems.'

Each winner received receive £5,000, as well as the chance to go on and win the overall Book of the Year award.

2008 Shortlist Categories Fiction, Non- Fiction, Poetry, and First Book.

2008 Fiction Shortlist

The Devil's Footprints by John Burnside (Jonathan Cape)
The Devil's Footprints is the story of a man trying to come to terms with a suspended life, and the fear, guilt and unbearable grief that mark it. Revealing what lies beneath the surface of the everyday world, John Burnside has written a novel of mysterious and terrifying beauty - as primal and thrilling as cloven hooves in the snow.

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Old Men in Loveby Alasdair Gray (Bloomsbury)
‘Imagine Lanark meets Something Leather, with a kind of a Poor Things feel to it…’ By this I mean to convey to this novel’s readers, that Alasdair Gray remains, first and foremost, entirely sui generis. He’s the very best Alasdair Gray that we have, and we should cherish his works accordingly.'— Will Self

Day by ALKennedy (Jonathan Cape)
A superbly realised novel about the brutal simplicities of war - of horror, and the camaraderie found in the closeness to death - and a moving exploration of the complexities of human emotion, Day is a wonderful piece of storytelling.

Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis (Myths) WINNER by Ali Smith (left) (Canongate)
“…Girl Meets Boy is rewriting – and then some. A glorious wide-awake dream of a book that has, right at its beating heart, one of Ovid’s Metamorphoses…By the time I finished the book, my heart was beating and tears stood in my eyes, even as I had the biggest smile written all over my face…” Kirsty Gunn, Observer


Scotland's Books: The Penguin History of Scottish Literature by Robert Crawford (Penguin)
From Treasure Island to Trainspotting, Scotland’s rich literary tradition has influenced writing across centuries and cultures far beyond its borders. Here, for the first time, is a single volume presenting the glories of fifteen centuries of Scottish literature.

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane (Granta)
It mixes history, memory and landscape in a strange and beautiful evocation of wildness and its vital importance. In the course of his journeys, Macfarlane’s own understanding of wildness undergoes a transformation.

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Volume 1 - The Making Of The Poet (1919-1953): 1 by Timothy Neat (Polygon)
The official authorised biography with author access to Hamish Henderson’s archive and previously unpublished poems and letters.

A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr (Macmillan)
A groundbreaking history of Britain from 1945 to the present day, from one of our most respected journalists.

Auld Campaigner: A Life of Alexander Scott by David Robb (right) (Dunedin Academic Press)
“Restoring faith in the art of Scottish literary biography...[this] is a revealing study of the man, his work and his invaluable contribution to the academic study of Scottish literature.” --Textualities.net

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2008 Poetry Shortlist

Gift Songs by John Burnside (Jonathan Cape)
'Burnside's eye has never been clearer, his poetic voice never
more plainly lovely' Scottish Review of Books - Candia McWilliam

Window for a Small Blue Child by Gerrie Fellows (Carcanet Press)
The story of the poet's experience of in vitro fertilisation, a sequence of poems underscored by the seasons and by the biological clock of a woman in her forties as she navigates the risks and choices, the drugs and rituals of fertility treatment.

A Book of Lives by Edwin Morgan (Carcanet Press)
His poems teem with lives and loves and are marked by an unusual love of the present and the future.

Greenfields by Richard Price (Carcanet Press)
Greenfields shows how it was, to grow up in a quiet corner of Scotland, fixing the last decades of the twentieth century in its snapshots.

Bodywork by Dilys Rose (left)(Luath Press)
..a collection of poetry and prose, which focuses on the human body, its weaknesses and strengths, mortality and physiology. This is a daring, exciting, amusing, sometimes salacious, always lyrical, a peep show of poetry.

2008 First Book Shortlist

Morocco Rococo by Jane McKie (Cinnamon Press)
Delicate, layered images distilled to their visceral essentials characterise Jane McKie's award winning poetry.

Shadow Behind the Sun: Flight from Kosovo: A Woman's Story by Remzije Sherifi (Sandstone Press)
For the first time, the horrible events that took place in Kosova are shown from an Albanian Kosovar perspective. In addition, they are put into an historical context that calls into question the accepted notion that the 'cleansings' of the 1990s are entirely a modern phenomenon. Instead, the author insists, they were part of a recurring historical pattern and as such are likely to happen again.

The Brainstorm by Jenny Turner (Jonathan Cape)
“a splendid piece of intelligent chicklit, in which the need for women to beware of women is caustically laid out for us. Several of its central characters are Scots expatriates; it is also a very Scottish Gothic novel, full of shadow doubles and the selling of souls” Time Out.

2007 Winners and Shortlists

2007 Book of the Year

gunn_kirstyKirsty Gunn (left) was named the inaugural winner of the Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year for her novella The Boy and the Sea (Faber).

Gunn, a native New Zealander who teaches creative writing at Dundee University, was awarded the £25,000 prize at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday night.

Gunn said she was “completely overwhelmed” with the award. She added: “I’m grateful to the panel for embracing my short novella it that is in so many ways such an unconventional piece of literary fiction.”

The Scottish Arts Council and BAA announced they are going to give away 1,000 free copies of Gunn’s book to travelers leaving Edinburgh Airport during the course of the festival.

The other books short-listed for the award were Robin Robertson’s poetry collection Swithering, John Burnside’s memoir A Lie About My Father and Maggie Fergusson’s biography George Mackay Brown: The Life. Each short-listed contender received a prize of £5,000 and read an extract from their work at the ceremony.

2007 Fiction
Winner: The Boy and the Sea by Kirsty Gunn (Faber)
Comment from the judges:
‘This is a novella of consummate subtlety, imaginative daring, and emotional intensity, capturing the anguish of adolescent sensitivity and mystery in an intimate yet elemental story, rendered in a poetic prose of dazzling lyricism.’

Selected from the following shortlist
Kate Atkinson – One Good Turn (Doubleday)
Kirsty Gunn – The Boy and the Sea (Faber)
Jackie Kay – Wish I was Here (Picador)
Bernard MacLaverty – Matters of Life and Death (Jonathan Cape)
James Robertson – The Testament of Gideon Mack (Penguin)

2007 Non-fiction
Winner: A Lie About My Father by John Burnside (Jonathan Cape)
Comment from the judges:
‘John Burnside knows that ‘life is more complicated than our narratives’, but in this often overwhelmingly discomforting memoir of a failed relationship, he does more than justice to the plight of two lost and falling men, in writing of searing honesty and intimate delicacy.’

Selected from the following shortlist
John Burnside – A Lie About My Father (Jonathan Cape)
Roger Hutchison – Calum’s Road (Birlinn)
Rory Stewart – Occupational Hazards (Picador)

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2007 First Book
Winner: George Mackay Brown: The Life by Maggie Fergusson (John Murray)
Comment from the judges:

‘In this exceptional biography, with its marvellous balance of tact and affection, Maggie Fergusson’s revelatory account of George Mackay Brown gives us the desolations and consolations of an intensely private writer, and a vivid portrait of the extraordinary individuals and communities which nurtured his genius.’

Selected from the following shortlist
Maggie Fergusson – George Mackay Brown: The Life (John Murray)
Alice Greenaway – White Ghost Girls (Atlantic Books)
Jane Harris – The Observations (Faber and Faber)
Stef Penney – The Tenderness of Wolves (Quercus)

2007 Poetry
Winner: Swithering by Robin Robertson (Picador)
Comment from the judges:

‘If the title Swithering foregrounds the uncertainties and emotional volatility that drive this remarkable collection, it doesn’t apply to Robin Robertson’s unerring command of poetic language and form: loss is rendered with supreme sharpness and control from a poet who is also a master of the killer last line.’

Selected from the following shortlist:

Anna Crowe – Punk With Dulcimer (Peterloo Poets)
W.N. Herbert – Bad Shaman Blues (Bloodaxe)
Robin Robertson – Swithering (Picador)

Members of the judging panel for 2007 were:
Elizabeth Laird, author and former prize winner; Dr Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library; Dr Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council.0

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