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Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year

Finalists| Shortlist | Judges | Authors

The Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book Awards – Scotland’s richest book awards, and the fourth largest in the UK – were held for the first time at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose on 20 June 2008, hosted by writer and comedian Rory Bremner.

The Awards, organised by the Scottish Arts Council since the 1970s, have gone from strength to strength, reflecting the growing prominence and prestige of Scottish literature. This is the second year that the awards have been generously sponsored by Sundial Properties, allowing for increased prize money for both the main winner and in the four new categories. 

Category winners announced

On 3 April the Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book Awards announced the winners in the categories of fiction, non fiction, poetry and first book, each receiving a prize of £5000.

One of these four will be awarded the overall title of Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year; an accolade which will net the author a total prize of £25,000.

A total of 17 titles were shortlisted in four categories. The category winners are

Fiction - Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith (Canongate)

Cover image of 'Girl Meets Boy' by Ali Smith; Published by Canongate

Ali Smith’s re-mix of Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold.

Judging panel member Janice Galloway commented: “This category was a tough call for the judges – that Ali Smith’s delightfully reframed telling of the Myth of Iphis won through pays huge tribute to the lacy transparency, sprint-runner pace, sexy fluidity and rigorously deceptive simplicity of its prose. Frothy and packed with unexpected after-kick, Girl meets Boy's blend of heart, head and spirit is a splendid distillation.” 

Non-fiction - The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane (Granta)

Cover image of 'The Wild Places' by Robert MacFarlane; Published by Granta

Robert Macfarlane’s book starts by asking the question – are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? Or have we tarmacked, farmed and built ourselves out of wildness?  In The Wild Places, Macfarlane embarks on a series of beautifully described journeys in search of the wildness that remains, visiting locations such as Rannoch Moor, the Strathnaver broch and the Isle of Raasay.

Judging panel member Rory Watson commented: “Robert Macfarlane's Wild Places offers a different delight with its journeys to discover 'wildness' in the remote and not so remote parts of Britain. This beautiful book takes us to tree tops, beaches and mountains, to reflect on memory and meaning, along with those who have known remoteness too (George Orwell, Ivor Gurney, Sorley MacLean and many others) as we rediscover a world of animals, forests, stones, feathers and stars in the company of a supremely lyrical writer.”

Poetry - A Book of Lives by Edwin Morgan (Carcanet Press)

Cover image of 'A Book of Lives' by Edwin Morgan; Published by Carcanet Press

The latest collection from Scotland’s National Poet, A Book of Lives draws together the themes that inform Morgan’s world with poems both profound and witty.

Judging panel member Rory Watson commented: “. . . ‘the Universe goes from door to door begging for questions. It hates a sullen tongue' writes Edwin Morgan in A Book of Lives, and he more than rises to the challenge in this lively, deep, rambunctious and moving collection of poems. 'I have been right through life like an arrow' he says and then takes us with him in a memorable journey of love and sadness, energy and sheer delight. This is a collection to take your breath away in one minute and to shout for joy the next."

First book - Morocco Rococo by Jane McKie (Cinnamon Press)

Cover image of 'Morocco Rococo' by Jane McKie; Published by Cinnamon Press


Jane McKie’s first published collection of poetry takes the reader on journeys through landscapes both exotic and familiar, covering a range of subjects and contexts which are vividly brought to life on the page.

Judging Panel member Lilias Fraser commented: "Jane McKie’s poems talk about travel and journeys, and what makes us appreciate the special and the exotic. I thought at first that her style was all about cool restraint, but it’s the restraint that creates her most breathtakingly sensuous, subtle, bewitching poems."

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