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Highland Book Prize longlist announced

By Philip Murray

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The 13 entries which made the longlist.
The 13 entries which made the longlist.

Everything from nature and travel writing to fiction, history and poetry feature in the longlist for a prestigious Highland literary prize.

The organisers of the annual Highland Book Prize have unveiled the 13 hopefuls vying for this year’s award.

The prize aims to showcase the literary talent of the region and to raise the profile of work created in or about the Highlands.

The first round of judging was completed in October by a panel of 145 volunteer readers. The panel of industry professionals and avid readers from the Highlands and further afield were tasked with reading and reviewing 52 entries from more than 30 publishers.

Readers spent the summer immersed in fiction, poetry, memoir, history, nature, crime, young adult and Gaelic titles.

This year’s longlist includes The Nature of Summer by Jim Crumley (nature and environment), Cottongrass Summer by Roy Dennis (nature and conservation), The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott (young adult fiction), The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford (fiction), and Plague Clothes by Robert Alan Jamieson (poetry).

Also on the list are To The Lake by Kapka Kassabova (memoir, reportage, travel), Nàdar De | Some Kind Of by Pàdraig MacAoidh | Peter Mackay (poetry, Gaelic and English), In Search of Angels by Alistair Moffat (travel and spirituality), An Archive of Happiness by Elizabeth K Reeder (fiction) and The Changing Outer Hebrides: Galson and the Meaning of Place by Frank Rennie (history and nature).

And rounding off the list are Grimoire by Robin Robertson (poetry), Summer by Ali Smith (fiction), and Pine by Francine Toon (fiction).

Presented by the Highland Society of London, The Highland Book Prize is facilitated by Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre in partnership with the Ullapool Book Festival. The William Grant Foundation also provides funding to encourage public engagement with the Highland Book Prize.

Rachel Humphries, director of Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre, said: “More than ever, this prize is important. It allows us to celebrate literature and place, something that unites many of us. When movement is becoming more and more restricted, we travel through these books to the Highlands, glimpsing a snapshot through the writers’ eyes.

“Seven of the longlist titles are by authors born or living in the Highlands, demonstrating the stellar literary talent in or from the region. We are also delighted to announce that from late November onwards, the Highland Book Prize and Moniack Mhor will be delivering a programme of digital events including talks and workshops with longlisted writers to connect people with their work.”.

The second round of judging to determine the shortlist will be undertaken by a panel of expert judges, who will announce it in March. The winner will be revealed on May 8 at an event hosted by the Ullapool Book Festival, the Highland Society of London and Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre. The winner will receive £1000 and a place on a Moniack Mhor writing retreat.

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