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Four Birlinn books longlisted for The Highland Book Prize 2023!

  25 Jan '24   |  Posted by: Birlinn

We are thrilled to share the news that four of our books have made the longlist for the esteemed Highland Book Prize, which celebrates books that come from the rich landscape and culture of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. This includes books written by authors who live in the Highlands or were born there, as well as books whose content is Highland themed. A huge congratulations to our authors on this well-deserved recognition of their work.

Our books included on the shortlist are:

A vivid account of a journey through the Scottish Highlands, The Bone Cave follows a series of folktales and myths to the places in which they’re set. Travelling mostly on foot, and camping along the way amid some of Scotland’s most beautiful and rugged landscapes, Dougie Strang encounters a depth of meaning to the tales he tracks – one that offers a unique perspective on place, culture, land ownership and ecological stewardship, as well as insights into his own entanglement with place.

In a bloody, brutal raid, Abbot Blathmac is slain on the steps of his monastery for refusing to give away the location of the sacred relics of St Columba, the missionary who first brought Christianity to Scotland. Following a night of rampage and mayhem, one Viking wakes up the next morning to find himself alone, hungover, and abandoned by his crew mates. Rooted in the real history of Iona and its early monks, Columba’s Bones is an utterly unique and thrilling read, exploring the clash of early Christianity and paganism.

A battle lost. A daring escape. A long walk into obscurity. The ultimate failure….

In the aftermath of the disastrous Battle of Culloden, a lonely figure takes flight with a small band of companions through the islands and mountains of the Hebrides. His name is Charles Edward Stuart: better known today as Bonnie Prince Charlie. He had come to the country to take the throne. Now he is leaving in exile and abject defeat.

You scramble up over the dunes of an isolated beach. You climb to the summit of a lonely hill. You pick your way through the eerie hush of a forest. And then you find them. The traces of the past. In this book acclaimed author and presenter James Crawford introduces many such places all over the country, from the ruins of prehistoric forts and ancient, arcane burial sites, to abandoned bothies and boathouses, and the derelict traces of old, faded industry.

The judging panel will now review each of the twelve titles to select a shortlist and, ultimately, a winner. The 2023 Judging Panel are poet and essayist, Jen Hadfield, whose collection The Stone Age won the 2021 Highland Book Prize; acclaimed multi-award winning fiction writer Cynan Jones; and Peter Mackay, poet, lecturer and broadcaster, whose collection Nàdar De was longlisted for the 2020 Highland Book Prize. Alex Ogilvie, Trustee for the Highland Society of London, is non-voting Chair.

The shortlist will be announced in May 2024. The winner will be revealed at an award ceremony held in partnership with Nairn Book & Arts Festival on Tuesday 3rd September.

Speaking about the selection process, Rachel Humphries, Centre Director at Moniack Mhor said, ‘I am always excited at the longlisting stage of the Highland Book Prize: it’s the first celebration of a collective effort between our wonderful volunteer reading panel, judges, and organisers. A lot has happened by now, it’s a joy and an education at the submission stage to see the breadth of literature that’s being created in or about the Highlands. This year, I’m particularly thrilled by the balance and the geography of the longlist with the prize reaching writers living in Shetland, Orkney, Inverness-shire, Assynt, Angus, and Edinburgh.’

‘Year on year, the prize never fails to surprise. This longlist explores and interrogates a broad range of themes from historical highland moments to the impact of climate change, ecology and wildlife, to the practices of the people much further afield, in the valley of the Mesta. I’m thankful for the eclectic nature of the prize. It teaches us and connects us more deeply with place through so many different and talented voices.’

Find out the full shortlist on the Highland Book Prize website here.

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