A Double Celebration for a Very Special Book

  05 Jun '20   |  Posted by: Birlinn

On this, World Environment Day, we are delighted to share two wonderful pieces of news. Firstly, Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape by Patrick Laurie has been LONGLISTED for the Wainwright Prize 2020. This is a huge achievement and we hope you will join us in raising a virtual glass to a very real author and his wonderful book.

Last year’s winner of the Wainwright Prize was Underland by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton). Previous winners include: The Seabird’s Cry, by Adam Nicolson (2018), The Outrun by Amy Liptrot (2016) and Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel (2014).

The shortlist launch is currently scheduled for 30th July and the Prize Ceremony is set to take place on 30th August. As with all arts projects in the UK at present, these arrangements may be impacted by Covid-19. There are two categories for this prize: The Wainwright Prize for UK nature writing and The Wainwright Prize for writing on global conservation. When the winners are announced, £5,000 prize fund will be shared and presented to the authors of the winning books. The Wainwright Prize is awarded in association with the National Trust.

The Wainwright Prize was named after Alfred Wainwright, the author of the famous fell walking series, the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. Created to celebrate nature-writing and encourage exploration of the Outdoors, it was initially conceived in 2014 by Frances Lincoln, publishers of the Guides. It has been administered ever since by the independent Literary Marketing Agency; AGILE.

And the second piece of news?

In addition, we are celebrating the rights sale for Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape to US publisher, Jack Shoemaker at Counterpoint Press. The brilliant rights agent Fiona Brownlee made the deal and we are really delighted that this book has found such a perfect home in the USA.

Have you read it yet? If not, click here to get your hands on a copy. Here’s what the media are saying:

‘Brilliant and Beautiful… This is a book about a place you will probably have never visited: but you should read it nonetheless because what it says has a wider importance, about some of what we have got wrong in the way we respect nature and farming and what we might get right if we change our ways… It is also that most valuable of things, an escape to an open land where curlew still cry and the wind and rain cut in from the sea and city life feels a million miles away’

Julian Glover, London Evening Standard

‘[A] beautifully written memoir, a mesmerising account of a year of back-breaking labour, personal despair and piercing moments of joy… unforced and utterly authentic.’ FIVE STAR REVIEW

Mail on Sunday

‘A farmer with a poet’s eye is a rare thing indeed, and this is a rare breed of a book: an elegy to a vanishing landscape but one not without hope, and to be greatly treasured’

Daily Mail

‘Galloway, past and present, is the bedrock of this book, a granite foundation on which Laurie is to build his future… an unflinching account of what it takes to turn into a farmer, bearing callouses, bruises and scars…. moving as well as inspirational. This Galloway farm might be just one stamp in an album, but if a butterfly wing can cause a hurricane, what about a rampaging bull?’

Rosemary Goring, Herald

‘Native is described as ‘a hymn of love to his native land’. It’s an apt description for a wonderful book… a poignant and thought-provoking read, I loved it’

So remarkable, and so profoundly enjoyable to read…  its importance is huge, setting down a vital marker in the 21st century debate about how we use and abuse the land. It reflects both the hardness and the joy of a life that nurtures the land for the long term, rather than simply raping it for profit; it warns us that even the best-intentioned policies, determined by faraway governments, can do great damage if they ignore the hard-won knowledge of past generations.  Laurie’s book is subtitled Life In A Vanishing Landscape, but in truth its subject is much more complex than that.

Joyce McMillan, Scotsman

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