2023 Shortlist

Titles by David Greig, Kapka Kassabova, Alan Warner, Sally Huband and James MacDonald Lockhart appear on the shortlist for the 2023 Highland Book Prize.

Presented by the Highland Society of London, and facilitated by Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, and with funding from the William Grant Foundation for public engagement, 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.

The shortlist was selected from a longlist of 12 by this year’s judging panel, who are: poet and essayist Jen Hadfield; novelist and screenwriter Cynan Jones; and Peter Mackay, poet, lecturer and broadcaster. The selection process was chaired by Alex Ogilvie, a Trustee for the Highland Society of London.

Judge Peter Mackay said, “This was an extremely strong longlist, with an excellent range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry; there were excursions between islands and underground, experiments, dreams and nightmares. All the books show that writing in, about and from the Highlands is in rude health, and it was a pleasure to read from them, and a real challenge to choose between them; in the end the shortlisted books were those that surprised me most, or made me travel furthest from where we thought we had landed.”

Shortlist 2023

Columba’s Bones, David Greig

(Fiction, Birlinn)

Elixir: In the Valley at the End of Time, Kapka Kassabova

(Non-Fiction, Jonathan Cape)

Nothing Left to Fear from Hell, Alan Warner

(Fiction, Birlinn)

Sea Bean, Sally Huband

(Non-Fiction, Penguin)

Wild Air: In Search of Birdsong, James Macdonald Lockhart

(Non-Fiction, Fourth Estate)

Cynan Jones also said of the judging process: “One of the most demanding things about judging the Highland Book Prize was to stand books from across forms, genres, and languages alongside one another. I think that brings something very special to the process. No one should be in any doubt about the level of respect in the room when we were discussing the titles. Amongst the judging team, and for the books themselves.”

The shortlisted writers will be invited to take part in community workshops over the summer, and the winner will be announced at an Award Ceremony on 3rd September 2024, held in partnership with Nairn Book & Arts Festival.  This Award event will also be available as a live stream.

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