Published: 12/11/2014 12:32 - Updated: 13/11/2014 12:12

Saltire success for the north

Ali Smith: 'over the moon' at her Saltire Awards win.
Ali Smith: 'over the moon' at her Saltire Awards win.

INVERNESS writer Ali Smith and Dingwall-based publisher Sandstone Press have each collected trophies at the 2014 Saltire Society Literary Book of the Year Award in Edinburgh.

There was also good news for Buckie poet Alexander Hutchison, who won the Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award for his collection Bones and Breath.

The Saltire Literary Awards are regarded as Scotland’s most prestigious annual book awards recognising achievements fiction and non-fiction, poetry, new writing and publishing.

The winner of each of the five individual book categories wins a £2000 cash prize and goes forward to be considered for the Saltire Book of the Year award, supported by Creative Scotland and accompanied by a total cash prize of £10,000.

Former Inverness High School pupil Smith, who now lives in Cambridge, won the award’s newest category, the Literary Book of The Year, with her novel How To Be Both, which was described by the judging panel as "an exhilarating read".

How To Be Both also secured Smith her third appearance on the Man Booker Prize shortlist, but lost out to Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road at last month’s awards ceremony.

The Saltire Literary Award shortlist also included A.L. Kennedy’s short story collection All the Rage, Anne Donovan’s historical novel Gone Are The Leaves, broadcaster Sally Magnusson’s memoir of her mother Where Memories Go, Gaelic language novel Cala Bendita ‘S a Bheannachdan by Martin MacIntyre and The James Plays by Rona Munro.

"I am over the moon!" Smith declared on winning the award.

"Especially after such a shortlist — I can’t believe my luck. Thank you."

The Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year category is another fairly recent addition to the awards and Sandstone Press is the second company to be awarded the prize, which comes with a cash prize of £4000 to assist further development of the business.

'Absoluely glowing': Bob Davidson of Sandstone Press.
'Absoluely glowing': Bob Davidson of Sandstone Press.

Sandstone’s managing director, Bob Davidson, said he was "absolutely glowing" at receiving the award, which recognised Sandstone as having established a reputation for quality and innovation.

"It’s another milestone for where we are going and a wonderful piece of recognition from the county’s major awards body," Davidson said.

"It’s the third time that the company’s been honoured at the Saltire Awards in that the company has twice won Research Book of The Year, but this is Publisher of The Year and competition is fantastically keen. We are very proud and looking to the future with increased confidence."

2015 will see Sandstone Press publish some 30 books, including titles in Gaelic and the autobiography of Ronnie Browne of The Corries, and Davidson is currently looking at books for 2016 publication.

Other publishers shortlisted for the award were sports specialists Backpage Press, Glasgow-based Freight and Edinburgh-based Birlinn, children’s and adult non-fiction publisher Floris and independent educational publisher Bright Red.

Other Saltire Award winners were: Scottish First Book of the Year Award — Moontide, a collection of poetry from Edinburgh-based Niall Campbell.

Scottish Research Book of the Year Award — The Scottish Town in the Age of Enlightenment by Robert Harris and the late Charles McKean.

Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award — Bones and Breath by Buckie poet Alexander Hutchison.

Scottish History Book of the Year Award — Scottish Gods: Religion in the Modern Scotland 1900-2012 by Steve Bruce.

Saltire Society executive director Jim Tough said the judging panel had been very impressed by the quality and range of books on the 2014 shortlist.

"From poetry and plays to novels and non-fiction, extending the length and breadth of the country and far beyond, this year’s shortlist is a testament to the outstanding calibre of modern Scottish literature in all its varied forms," he added.

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