Irvine Welsh, James Kelman, Jenni Fagan and Maggie O’Farrel will all be competing for Scotland’s major literary honours this year.
The Blade Artist, which saw Edinburgh author Welsh revive Trainspotting hardman Francies Begbie, will be up against Glasgow writer Kelman’s ninth novel, which charts a father and son’s road trip through the United States.
Both are in the running for coveted best Scottish fiction book at next month’s Saltire Literary Awards, along with Ayrshire crime writer Graeme Macrae Burnet, who is already shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize with his second novel His Bloody Project.
Also in contention in the same category are Edinburgh-based O’Farrell’s love story This Must Be The Place, Lewis author Kevin MacNeil’s The Brilliant and Forever, which charts the efforts of three friends to win their island’s literary prize, and The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan, which charts a remote Highland community’s efforts to cope with freak winter weather.
Shortlist candidates for six different categories have been unveiled, with each winner being announced on November 24 also being considered for the overall Saltire Scottish Book of the Year.
In the running for the best first book prize are Chitra Ramaswamy’s account of her pregnancy, lawyer Isabel Buchanan’s book recalling her time working on death-row cases in Pakistan and the first collection from Borders poet Claire Askew.
Non-fiction contenders include Orcadian writer Amy Liptrot’s account of her return home from London to try to beat drink and drug addictions, and James Craword’s study of 20 of the world’s “great lost buildings”.
William McIlvanney, Janice Galloway, Kate Atkinson, Sorley MacLean and George Mackay Brown are among the previous winners of the book of the year honour.
Saltire Society executive director Jim Tough said: “The sheer scale and variety of writing talent to be seen in the shortlists is remarkable.
“As always, excellence is evident across all awards and I know the judges will have their work cut out.”