2021 Judging Panel
Alex is a trustee of the Highland Society of London, and his particular focus within the Society is on promoting and supporting the arts in the Highlands of Scotland.
As well as presenting the Highland Book Prize, the Society provides funding to the University of the Highlands and Islands for a dissertation prize and sponsors the Fiction prize at the Gaelic Literature Awards.
Alex grew up near Fort William, the son of a Classics professor, in a house overflowing with books; since then, he has retained a love of both reading and the Highlands – and tries to combine both, wherever possible. He currently lives in the South of England and works for Warner Bros. International Television.
Jenny Niven is a highly regarded and well-known figure operating within the cultural sector. As a freelance producer and director, she is the director of Push the Boat Out, a new festival of poetry, spoken word and hip hop. She is currently Executive Producer on Dandelion, a ground breaking project drawing together science, the arts and innovation in the largest collective growing project of modern times. Jenny is Chair of Literature Alliance Scotland, and a sought-after chair for literature events, having interviewed a wealth of leading authors worldwide.
Jenny’s previous work in Scotland includes her role as Executive Producer at the Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation, and she was Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland from 2014-2019. Jenny led the Edinburgh International Book Festival organisation on secondment as Acting Director over the winter months of 16/17. Internationally, Jenny has worked as Associate Director at the Wheeler Centre for Books Writing and Ideas, Program Manager at the Melbourne Writers Festival and inaugural Director of The Bookworm International Literary Festival, in Beijing, China. She was also on the founding Board of the Stella Prize for Australian Women’s Writing and has judged a range of literary prizes.
Kapka Kassabova is a poet and writer of fiction and narrative non-fiction. The exploration of place and people fuels her work. She is most recently the author of Twelve Minutes of Love (Granta 2011), Border (Granta 2017) and To The Lake (Granta 2020). The last two are set at different trans-boundary confluences of the southern Balkans. They explore how the lives of individuals, families and nations are shaped by geography, politics, and ancestral forces. Her work is translated into twenty languages. Border was awarded many literary prizes in the UK, Europe, and the USA, including the British Academy’s Al-Rhodan Prize, the Saltire Book Award, and the Highland Book Prize.
Kapka Kassabova grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, and was university-educated in New Zealand in the 1990s, where she studied French Literature and published her first books of poetry and fiction. In 2005 she moved to Edinburgh, and for the last ten years she has lived by the Beauly River. Her next book is Elixir (Cape 2023).
Mark Wringe is a Senior Lecturer in Gaelic Language and Culture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, University of the Highlands and Islands. He regularly chairs events at Ullapool and other book festivals around Scotland, and has presented BBC Radio nan Gàidheal’s book programme Leugh an Leabhar for 20 years. He has been a member of the judging panel for the Saltire Literary Awards and the Clan Donald Poetry Prize. He has served on the board of directors of the Gaelic Books Council. He lives in Skye, where he is Chair of a local community trust, Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative.