Category: Literary Awards

There’s a lot to celebrate in the world of Scottish literature

Laura Waddell

Laura Waddell writes:

THIS year I’m a judge for the Saltire Society First Book of the Year and shortlists were announced last night, recognising the best Scottish fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and research books to emerge in the last twelve months.

An enjoyable honour, to be sure, but a responsibility our quartet judging panel didn’t take lightly. From the moment weighty boxes of submissions landed on our doorsteps we had our work cut out for us, not least the volume of reading.

When we talk about excellent books, we talk about artistry of the written word, but also their way of understanding the world around us. At a time of vast quantities of information streaming rapidly like ticker tape down our social newsfeeds, books, to the contrary, have more space between their covers to breathe and reflect, and to play around with ideas and distil them before releasing them – after an editor’s careful eye has been over them – into the world.

Readers spend more time with a book than an article that will become tomorrow’s chip paper. We can struggle to find that time sometimes, but books can be equally as entertaining or as maddening as they are rewarding. Books have the freedom to dip in and out of time periods, places, and peoples, cut adrift from the constraints of alert, up-to-the-minute topicality.

Whether documenting reality or presenting an imaginary alternative, or just being a bloody good read, books and storytelling can reflect part of our culture.

Books have shaped my own life. Before I could read, I’d sneak books into the crawl tunnel at nursery, just to look at them. In the years since, they’ve been a divining rod straight to my greatest passions and a career in publishing. Like a monstrous fly-trap I eat up every book in reach to keep myself nimble as an editor and critic and consider myself lucky to have a vocation marked out in paper.


Young readers with copiest of the finalists in the 2019 Scottish Teenage Book Prize (Photo: Rob McDougall)

Kenny Smith writes:

Three Scottish writers are in the running for the 2019 Scottish Teenage Book Prize after the competition’s shortlist was announced earlier today.

Voting for the winner has now opened for young readers across the country.

The shortlisted authors for the prize have been revealed by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing. They are: S M Wilson for The Extinction Trials, John Young for Farewell Tour of a Terminal Optimist, and Kerr Thomson for The Rise of Wolves.

The Scottish Teenage Book Prize, now in its third year, was set up to celebrate the most popular teen books by authors in Scotland. It is run by Scottish Book Trust with support from Creative Scotland. Shortlisted authors receive £500 and the winner receives £3000.

Scottish Book Trust encourages teenagers of all ages to get involved, by reading the three shortlisted books and voting as part of their class or book group by 7 February 2019. The winning book will be announced on 27 February 2019, in an exclusive video available to classes who are registered to vote.

Teens are also invited to create their own book trailer or graphic novel of the shortlisted books, with the chance to win Waterstones gift cards. Scottish Book Trust provides extensive learning resources for teachers on how to create book trailers.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: ‘We are thrilled to be running the Scottish Teenage Book Prize for a third year. The shortlisted titles are an example of Scotland’s exciting talent in the teenage fiction genre. We hope that this award will encourage young people to engage with the prize by discussing and voting for their favourite book. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors.’

Alan Bett, literature officer at Creative Scotland said: ‘We are delighted to support this Scottish Book Trust initiative that, while rewarding deserving writers, also encourages teenage readers to engage with these works and have their say.”

Pascale Petit awarded the 2018 RSL Ondaatje Prize for "Mama Amazonica"

Pascale Petit has been awarded the 2018 RSL Ondaatje Prize for Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books). This is the first time poetry has won the Prize. Please read the RSL Ondaatje – Winner Press Release 2018 for more information.
Pascale Petit responds:
“I’m absolutely thrilled to win this particular prize for a book evoking the spirit of a place. I’ve been obsessed with the Amazon rainforest for 25 years, and I poured that obsession into Mama Amazonica. The Amazon has become my mother, in all her abused glory, and through that eco-system I am able to love an estranged and mentally ill parent. I’ve travelled to the Amazon four times, and recently stayed in a research centre deep in the Peruvian pristine jungle, and have observed at close hand how scientists are recording species as they vanish. It was there I saw a jaguar in his home!”
Read Pascale Petit‘s interview in Interlitq.
UK poet, Pascale Petit‘s Wikipedia entry.
UK poet Pascale Petit‘s website.
Read Pascale Petit‘s contribution to Interlitq‘s Poetic Voices.
Read Pascale Petit‘s contribution to Issue 6 of Interlitq.

Kazuo Ishiguro wins the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature

Kazuo Ishiguro

British writer Kazuo Ishiguro has won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature.

The novelist was praised by the Swedish Academy as a writer “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.
His most famous novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go were adapted into highly acclaimed films. He was made an OBE in 1995.
The 62-year-old writer said the award was “flabbergastingly flattering”.
He has written eight books, which have been translated into over 40 languages.


Pinochet y Borges Peligrosa amistad (Foto: Cortesía)

Mariana Limon escribe:
“Jorge Luis Borges tenía los méritos literarios suficientes para obtener un Nobel,” según María de Alva, directora de Letras Hispánicas del Tecnológico de Monterrey. “Pero aceptó un premio bajo la dictadura [de Pinochet]. No sé si solo fue eso [lo que impidió que ganara], el tema es controversial y no creo que sea fácil deducirlo”.
Es difícil determinar con certeza por qué la Academia Sueca no le otorgó el Nobel al escritor argentino. Sin embargo, diversas fuentes consideran que un factor importante fue la visita que realizó a Chile el 21 de septiembre de 1976.
En aquel entonces Jorge Luis Borges visitó la Universidad Católica para recibir un doctorado honoris causa de manos de Augusto Pinochet. Además, dio un discurso controversial del que se arrepentiría años después, según sus diarios personales y declaraciones de su viuda, María Kodoma.
“En esta época de anarquía sé que hay aquí, entre la cordillera y el mar, una patria fuerte. Lugones predicó la patria fuerte cuando habló de la hora de la espada. Yo declaro preferir la espada, la clara espada, a la furtiva dinamita (…). Y aquí tenemos: Chile, esa región, esa patria, que es a la vez una larga patria y una honrosa espada”, en su discurso de aceptación Borges elogió la dictadura chilena y con esto generó mucha crítica en su contra.
Un día después, el 22 de septiembre de 1976, Borges fue recibido por Pinochet y mantuvo su postura.