Home   News   Article

2023 Highland Book Prize shortlist announced

By Gregor White

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
The shortlist for this year's Highland Book Prize has been announced.
The shortlist for this year's Highland Book Prize has been announced.

Five titles with a Highland background are in the running for this year’s Highland Book Prize.

Presented by the Highland Society of London, and facilitated by Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre based near Loch Ness, and with funding from the William Grant Foundation for public engagement, the annual award celebrates the finest published work created in, or about, the Highlands and Islands.

The shortlist was selected from a longlist of 12 by this year’s judging panel: 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.

Mr 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.”

Subscribe to receive regular email newsletters

Thee award was open to books published by UK publishers between January 1 and December 31, 2023 and the shortlisted titles are:

Columba’s Bones by David Greig, a thriller set around the real history of the island of Iona and its early monks.

Elixir: In the Valley at the End of Time by Kapka Kassabova, a journey through the villages, valleys and folk wisdom of the author's native Bulgaria.

Nothing Left to Fear from Hell by Alan Warner, a reimagining of the character of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Sea Bean by Sally Huband, a nature study that encompasses myth, ecology and a very personal beachcombing journey.

Wild Air: In Search of Birdsong by James Macdonald Lockhart, a book about birds, birdsong and the countryside they inhabit.

Cynan Jones said: “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 September 3, to be held in partnership with Nairn Book & Arts Festival.

The award event will also be available as a live stream.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More