As #ScotLitFest is presented by the Saltire Society as part of their 80th celebrations, we thought we’d dig into their history for International Women’s Day 2016. Having supported Scottish literature for decades, they have pinpointed many, many successful authors in their very early days, so let’s have a look back at just a few.
The Trick is to Keep Breathing, now a contemporary classic, was nominated for Saltire First Book Award in 1990. While it didn’t win the award then, Janice has gone on to publish many more collections, most recently the acclaimed Jellyfish with Glasgow’s Freight Books, as well as being in the shortlist for Scottish Book of the Year at Saltire multiple times since, scooping the prize in 2002 for Clara.
It’s 25 years since A.L. Kennedy scooped the Saltire First Book Award for Night Geometry and The Garscadden Trains. She revisited this book for the Guardian in 2003, noting Didacus, the title story and Genteel Potatoes as the three of the collection that still stand out. Most recently, she published The Drosten’s Curse, the latest Doctor Who novel.
In 1992, Jackie Kay’s first poetry collection The Adoption Papers jointly claimed the Saltire First Book Award. In following years she has become one of the UK’s most respected authors, winning numerous awards including the Guardian Fiction Prize for Trumpet and the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award for Red Dust Road. A selection of Jackie’s poetry is used in the GCSE Edexcel Syllabus and in 2006 she was awarded an MBE for services to literature.
Free Love, Ali’s first short story collection which snagged the First Book Award in 1995, was the start of a career that’s led to her being one of the highest regarded authors in the country. More recently, she released another collection, Public Library, and her highly acclaimed How to Be Both, which, on top of winning Saltire’s Book of the Year 2014, won the Novel Award at the Costa Book Awards, the 2015 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for 2014’s Man Booker.
Kate Clanchy’s multi-award-winning Slattern, recipient of Saltire First Book Award in 1996, marked the beginning of her extensive literary output. Her numerous plays and poetry have been broadcast on BBC Radio and she was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards in 2013 for her first novel Meeting the English.