Saltire Society Literary Awards: First Book

First Book of the Year Shortlist

Celebrating emerging talent and fresh ideas, the First Book of the Year Award is dedicated to first-time authors who have not previously been published, and can be awarded to both fiction or non-fiction books.

60 Degrees North
by Malachy Tallack
Published by Polygon

60 Degrees NorthWhat the panel said:

Essays suggested by that line on the atlas – 60 degrees North – and the countries that line passes through, bound by the encounters with cold, distance, bleakness and human survival against challenging conditions. The author’s quirky interests and determination against difficult conditions make for a rewarding travel account.

What the shadow panel said:

The concept of travelling the 60th parallel is interesting, and Malachy is great at giving each destination its own identity. Every passing character has context, and while 60 Degrees North is a travel book, it reads like a well-written novel. It reaches out to anyone who has ever felt uncertainty about where home really is.

Read an extract.

by Audrey Henderson
Published by Homebound Publications

AirstreamWhat the panel said:

Airstream recounts the poet’s travels and passing encounters, snatches of conversation and memory, all made luminous and meaningful in a style of informally oblique personal statement. Henderson has a genuinely engaging voice —deceptively inconsequential in delivery— revealing a perceptive and witty sensibility at work.

What the shadow panel said:

Airstream feels like a story, taking the reader on a journey through poetry. When the flow between them was just right, the collection could sweep the reader away. It brought places like the National Library to life with its own personality, and hooked us with many moments of truly passionate writing.

Read an extract.

Lie of the Land
by Michael F. Russell
Published by Polygon

Lie of the LandWhat the panel said:

A bleak and dystopian vision of a Scotland where an apocalypse (never closely defined) has all but destroyed the familiar, and where the survivors are hemmed in and controlled by a never seen but always powerful authority. The narrator is a survivor, desperate to make contact with a past all but brutally erased. It is terribly believable.

What the shadow panel said:

This had an exciting premise and 1984 vibes in a not-too-distant future Scotland. Although it was a dystopian book the socio-political issues surrounding this were never really explored. The reason behind everything, or even the potential implications of it, wasn’t dealt with. Lie of the Land promised a lot from the beginning that was never really seen.

Read an extract.

On the Edges of Vision
by Helen McClory
Published by Queen’s Ferry Press

On the Edges of VisionWhat the panel said:

These are dark stories about the limits of the conscious and the darkness within. About a world where reality flickers in and out of focus disturbingly. The familiar is even more disturbing than the unfamiliar. These are stories that draw you back to re-read, but they continue to squirm out of final reach.

What the shadow panel said:

This is creepy and made us feel uncomfortable, but in an enjoyable way. Despite the mass of stories they all flow together, with a Pan’s Labyrinth/Coraline vibe to much of it. Even in the shortest stories, the characters are well-formed, and unlike anything we’d read. Ambitious and engaging.

Read an extract.

The Liepzig Affair
by Fiona Rintoul
Published by Aurora Metro Books, Ltd

The Leipzig AffairWhat the panel said:

A substantial and ambitious addition to the world of the Cold War spy thriller: a Scottish postgraduate student becomes involved with East German dissidents. A first book of immense confidence, its plot and atmosphere reveal a fully-fledged master of the genre.

What the shadow panel said:

The structure of first person and second person alternating narratives and times (one in the present, one looking back) is what many on the panel liked, and others found difficult. Either way, we felt the characters were so well developed and believable in this book that it was the most impressive, in that, sense for reality.

Read an extract.

The People’s Referendum
by Peter Geogheghan
Published by Luath Press

The People's ReferendumWhat the panel said:

History in the making, as experienced by the people of Scotland. Peter Geogheghan recorded the feelings and attitudes, the hopes and fears, of a varied cross-section of Scottish communities and cultures as the day of national decision, in September 2014, approached.

What the shadow panel said:

Geoghegan made a real attempt to remain balanced on a topic that’s often reported with bias, tying everything back to Scotland’s referendum. Other places and people were given their moment, but the language didn’t always match the topic at hand. It was, however, easy to read even for those not into politics.

Read an extract.

Stevie Marsden, PhD Researcher and Literary Awards Administrative Assistant at the Saltire Society:

This is the first year the Saltire Society has instituted a ‘shadow judging panel’ scheme for four of their literary award categories: Fiction, First Book, Non Fiction and Poetry. The purpose of the shadow judging panels was to offer young publishers, students and booksellers the opportunity to read the shortlists for these four categories and come together to discuss and judge the books. Through a fantastic partnership with the Society for Young Publishers, Scotland, this scheme has been hugely successful, with all of the participants commenting about how exciting this unique opportunity to engage with Scottish literature in this way was. The Saltire Society has been delighted that so many young publishers, booksellers and future publishers have had the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be in the judges chair!

The judging panel for the First Book of the Year Shortlist is:
Professor Ian Campbell – Dr Ann Matheson – Hannah McGill – Joyce McMillan – Jenny Niven – Dr David Robb – David Robinson – Professor Mark Wringe

The shadow panel for the First Book of the Year Shortlist is:
Heather McDaid – Charlotte Brady –  Justine Bottles  – Julia Crawford – Jo O’Brien – Nathaniel Kunitskaya



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