Saltire Society Literary Awards 2016

It’s been over a week since this took place (24th November) but between being floored with a bad cold and trying to keep on top of lectures, reading, and deadlines, it’s been a trying time. Ah, student life. I was definitely wearing rose-tinted glasses when I thought about returning to it! Having said that, I wouldn’t swap this for anything else. Except maybe a dream job in the publishing industry.

But back to the task at hand. The Saltire Society Literary Awards celebrate Scottish literature across various categories. The ceremony took place in the beautiful Central Hall in Edinburgh from 6pm. My first literary awards ceremoney! Hopefully the first of many. Wine was on offer first (as if they didn’t already have my heart with an evening devoted to books) with speeches kicking off at 6.30pm.

The first prize was for the International Student Travel Bursary. This is a great opportunity for a creative writing graduate to travel internationally to pursue their research project. Unfortunately I actually missed/immediately forgot the name of the gentleman who won, but congratulations to you!

Ross Roy Medal for the best PhD thesis on a subject relating to Scottish literature went to Craig Ronald Lamont (University of Glasgow) for Georgian Glasgow: the City Remembered Through Literature, Objects, and Cultural Memory Theory. Well done! I cannot imagine ever completing a PhD, let alone winning an award for it.

The Inspiring Scotland Bursary went to Annie George, founding Artistic Director and writer with Wave Theatre in Edinburgh. The bursary aims to discover an emerging minority ethnic voice in fiction, poetry or spoken word. And I have to agree with Annie George when she said she hopes one day there will be no need for such a category.

Research Book of the Year went to Sebastiaan Verweij for The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland (Oxford University Press).

History Book of the Year was won by James Hunter with Set Adrift Upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances (Birlinn).

Publisher of the Year went to Floris Books, Scotland’s largest children’s publisher, who also celebrate their fortieth birthday this year. They’ve really been having an amazing year, winning at least three other awards for their books.

Floris had a doubly whammy when Emerging Publisher of the Year went to their very own Leah McDowell, Design and Production Manager. Her delight just shone through when accepting the award. A joy to see.

Kathleen Jamie won Poetry Book of the Year for The Bonniest Companie (Picador).

In a surprise move (to me anyway) First Book of the Year was jointly awarded. Chitra Ramaswamy won for her book Expecting (Saraband) while Isabel Buchanan Trials: On Death Row in Pakistan (Jonathan Cape) also won.

Other People’s Money (Profile Books) by John Kay won the Non-Fiction Book of the Year.

And the Fiction Book of the Year went to Graeme Macrae Burnet for His Bloody Project (Saraband). Yay! I had a vested interest in this one: I was on the shadow judging panel for the fiction award. This is an excellent opportunity offered in conjunction with the Society for Young Publishers, Scotland. It allows young publishers, students and booksellers the opportunity to read the shortlist, then get together to discuss and judge the book. And then on awards night to feel vindicated or outraged by the result! I was so excited to be a part of this. I received six books (free books, hurrah!) and had three weeks to read them. Not an easy task when combined with uni life, but I powered through. Books are worth it. We got together to discuss them and it was fun; it was like the bookclub I’ve never joined. We debated the merits of each, but unanimously agreed that His Bloody Project was outstanding and deserved the title. It was heartening to hear our decision echoed by the real judges. And to witness Graeme’s emotional acceptance speech was humbling. It clearly means so much to him.

And finally, the Saltire Book of the Year went to Kathleen Bonnie for The Bonniest Companie. I was rooting for Graeme of course, but it was lovely to see a poetry book win. Poetry is not something I spend much time reading but this year is really making me see the error of my ways.

After, there was the chance to purchase some of the books, to mingle with the stars, and to feast on the delicious hors d’oeuvres, with wine of course.

A great evening; long may the Saltire Society Literary Awards continue.

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