Contenders for Scotland’s ‘Book of the Year' honour revealed as former prime minister Gordon Brown and Shuggie Bain author Douglas Stuart in the running
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Rising Scots language star Emma Grae, Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery and Kenyan-Scottish storyteller Mara Menzies are also in the running for the Saltire Society’s coveted title, along with former Scotsman journalists Chitra Ramaswamy and Alastair McKay.
Books on Mary Queen of Scots and Scotland's links with the African slave trade have also been recognised in the nominations for ‘Scotland's National Book Awards’ ahead of the ceremony in Edinburgh next month.
Shortlists have been revealed for six literary categories, with each winner receiving £2,000. They will also be considered for the Scottish Book of the Year prize, which is worth a further £4,000.
Previous winners of the main prize since 1937 include Neil Gunn, Alasdair Gray, Edwin Morgan, Muriel Spark, William McIlvanney, Liz Lochhead, Janice Galloway, Kate Atkinson and Michel Faber.
Ely Percy’s Duck Feet, which was written in the authentic Renfrewshire dialect, won both the best fiction book honour and the overall title last year, after previously being nominated for Scots Book of the Year at the Scots Language Awards.
Grae, who won the Scots Book of the Year honour earlier this year for her debut novel, darkly comic family drama Be Guid Tae Yer Mammy, has made this year’s Saltire best fiction book shortlist.
Others in contention include Blood and Gold, a novel which Menzies adapted from an acclaimed stage show exploring her mixed heritage, James Robertson's News of the Dead, which is set in the mountains of north-east Scotland during three different eras, and Alice Albinia’s Cwen, which has been hailed as a “future vision of an island archipelago where female power reigns supreme”.
Other best fiction nominees include Young Mungo, Stuart's follow-up to Booker winner Shuggie Bain, and Rachelle Atalia's The Pharmacist, a dystopian thriller in a nuclear bunker.
Contenders for the best first book award include I Am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam, which follows the story of a Tahitia muse and child-bride to the French painter Paul Gauguin, Edinburgh-based New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail’s graphic novel In, and Georgi Gill’s poetry collection Limbo, which is set in a fictional gay nightclub in Berlin.
Also in the running are Tom Bowser’s A Sky Full of Kites, which explores the reintroduction of the bird of prey to a Perthshire farm, Sean Lusk’s 18th-century historical mystery The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley, and The Voids, Ryan O’Connor’s novel, which is set in a condemned tower block in Glasgow.
In the non-fiction category, McKay's memoir Alternatives to Valium revisits encounters with pop culture figures, Watt's A Portrait Without Likeness explores the artist's fascination with the work of painter Allan Ramsay, and Ramaswamy's Homelands explores her friendship with Holocaust survivor Henry Wuga.
Other non-fiction contenders include Brown's Seven Ways to Change the World, Catherine Simpson's One Body, which navigates her treatment for cancer, and The Eternal Season, Stephen Rutt's celebration of summer.
Andrés N Ordorica, Claire Askew, Maria Sledmere and Marcas Mac an Tuairneir are shortlisted along with Lavery for the poetry prize.
Saltire Society director Sarah Mason said: "The awards reflect the strength of the literary scene in Scotland today and the 2022 shortlists showcase a wonderful variety and depth of storytelling.”