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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Shortlist Announced for the 2022 Highland Book Prize

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Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, and The Highland Society of London have announced the shortlist for the 2022 Highland Book Prize.

This annual award celebrates the finest published work that is created in, or about, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

The prize aims to recognise the literary talent of the region, and the rich and diverse work inspired by its culture, heritage, and landscape.

With work published in both English and Gaelic, the four shortlisted titles demonstrate the quality and variety of literature coming forth from the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

The shortlist was selected, from a longlist of 12, by this year’s judging panel, who are: Kapka Kassabova, poet and writer of fiction and narrative non-fiction, whose book Border (Granta) won the 2017 Highland Book Prize; Mark Wringe, Senior Lecturer in Gaelic Language and Culture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Islands; and Peter Mackay, poet, lecturer and broadcaster, whose 2020 collection, Nàdar De (Some Kind of) was longlisted for the 2020 Highland Book Prize, and who was recently named Bard of An Comunn Gàidhealach at the 2022 National Mòd. 

The selection process was chaired by Alex Ogilvie, a Trustee for the Highland Society of London.

The shortlisted titles are:

·         Companion Piece by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, 2022)

·         Confessions of a Highland Art Dealer by Tony Davidson (Woodwose Books, 2022)

·         Crann-Fìge/ Fig Tree: Short Stories by Duncan Gillies (Acair, 2022)

·         WAH! Things I Never Told My Mother by Cynthia Rogerson (Sandstone Press, 2022)

Rachel Humphries, Centre Director at Moniack Mhor, said: 

“We are thrilled to showcase a selection that represents such varied aspects of Highland culture and its people.

“It’s also wonderful to see a balance between new work and established voices that are new to the prize.”

Kapka Kassabova said of Companion Piece: 

“The finely cadenced prose is completely alive on the page, with themes that are subtly executed and an unforgettable story that is unlocked from the past and speaks to the present.

“A finely tuned mechanism of a book of virtuosic playfulness.”

Speaking about Confessions of a Highland Art Dealer, Peter Mackay said: 

“A fascinating book with a warm mix of anecdote, autobiography, and high art.

“The small vignettes about artists and their work are fantastic, and it is especially interesting on arts culture and class systems in the Highlands.

“An engaging read that gives many new insights.’

Mark Wringe said of Crann-Fìge/ Fig Tree: 

“Written with confidence and assurance in both Gaelic and English, these short stories have a timeless quality. 

“These light, subtle stories gel to form a cohesive whole, depicting Gaelic culture when it too was whole.”

Kapka Kassabova also commented on WAH! Things I Never Told My Mother:

“WAH! explores the making of a self through personal relationships.

“Written with grace, humour, and panache, it effortlessly traces the author’s intimate journey across cultures, eras, and stages of life.”

The winning title will be announced at an online award ceremony on the Tuesday 6th June 2023.

This event will include readings and discussion with all four shortlisted authors, before the winning title is revealed.

One author will be awarded a £2000 prize by the Highland Society of London and will receive a writing retreat the Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre.

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