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scottish mortgage investment trust book awards

2009 overall winner | 2009 category winners | 2009 judges

 Category Winners

First book


James Kelman, Kieron Smith, boy, (Hamish Hamilton)

Commenting on the book’s selection as winner in the Fiction category Pat Kane on behalf of the judges said:

‘James Kelman's fiction is completely committed to the project of articulating the complex inner voices of the under-voiced and disregarded. By this light, Kieran Smith, boy is his masterpiece: the social convulsions of post-war Glasgow refracted through the resilient, inventive, tireless consciousness of a scheme boy. A stunning and moving achievement.’


Rejected by his brother and largely ignored by his parents, Kieron Smith finds comfort – and endless stories – in the home of his much-loved grandparents. But when his family move to a new housing scheme on the outskirts of the city, a world away from the close community of the tenements, Kieron struggles to find a way to adapt to his new life.

In his brilliantly evoked post-war Glasgow, Kelman depicts the city during a period of profound social change, with flourishing sectarianism, yet high hopes for the future. And in his central character, he creates a universal portrayal of the unique obsessions of childhood, whether fishing, climbing, books, brothers, dogs, ghosts, faces or souls...

James Kelman, Kieron Smith, boy

Warm, funny, with searing insight and astonishing empathy, in Kieron Smith, James Kelman has created an unforgettable boy.

Author Biography

James Kelman

James Kelman was born in Glasgow in 1946. His books include Greyhound for Breakfast, A Disaffection, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and How Late it Was, How Late, which won the 1994 Booker Prize. His more recent novels are Translated Accounts and You Have to be Careful in the Land of the Free.


Read further details of the books and authors who made the fiction shortlist.


Janice Galloway, This is Not About Me, (Granta)

Commenting on the book’s selection as winner in the Non-Fiction category Gavin Wallace on behalf of the judges said:
'This is writing of sheer magnitude of feeling and consummate control, shimmering with luminosity of insight and chilling the pages with the tragically simple terrors of childish vulnerability and bewilderment. The book also features amongst its small cast of characters two of the most compellingly depicted domestic tyrants anywhere in Scottish literature, all the more memorably awful for being products of reality, not the imagination.'


In This is Not About Me Janice writes about her first twelve years, growing up on the west coast of Scotland. Her birth was a surprise as her mother had assumed she was going through the menopause, not recognising (or possibly not accepting) that she was pregnant. Janice’s older sister, Cora, had already left home and was living in Glasgow with her husband and baby.  Life changed dramatically when Cora returned to the family home, with no mention of her new family, and claimed the lion’s share of the available space.  For the rest of her childhood Janice was both in awe of and terrified by Cora – a force of nature, bullying and hilarious, creative and destructive. 

Janice Galloway, 'This is not about me'

Author Biography

Janice Galloway

Janice Galloway scored an immediate success and critical acclaim with her debut novel The Trick is to Keep Breathing.  She has also published two collections of short stories, Blood and Where You Find It (which won the EM Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters).  Her novel Clara (based on the life of 19th Clara Weick Schumann) was a huge success (quotes overleaf) and won the Saltire Book of the Year.  She has also penned an opera, Monster, based on the life of Mary Shelley (with Sally Beamish).  Janice Galloway lives in Lanarkshire, Scotland


Read further details of the books and authors who made the non-fiction shortlist.


Tom Pow, Dear Alice (Salt Publishing)

Commenting on the book’s selection as winner in the Poetry category Lilias Fraser on behalf of the judges said:

‘Tom Pow’s book pulls off an incredible high-wire act. It’s a riveting story about place and people. It’s a meticulously-researched study of madness and its inheritance. And it’s a masterclass in how a collection of poems can handle such a huge subject with an explosive, vivid, brutal, funny, concentrated grace.’


Tom Pow’s powerful new collection of poetry explores the imaginative legacy of a nineteenth-century lunatic asylum, the Crichton, drawing on the richly-documented history of the site. This remarkable book includes the sequence ‘Resistances’ gathered from female patients’ notes, but Pow brings many others within his compass: Nebuchadnezzar, Tom Thumb, Peter Pan, Charcot (Master of Salpetriere, the female asylum in Paris, ‘that great emporium of human misery’), all make an appearance, as do Freud and the Wolf Man. The Crichton Lunatic Asylum was at the forefront of the great nineteenth century European-wide ‘trade in lunacy’ — a period when old assurances were crumbling and our modern sense of the permeability of identity was being formed.

Tom Pow, 'Dear Alice'

Author Biography

Tom Pow

Tom Pow has won three Scottish Arts Council Book Awards for his poetry and one for his children’s writing. He has also written a travel book and written radio dramas. From 2001 to 2003 he was the first writer in residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and in 2005 was Poet in Residence at StAnza, Scotland’s Poetry Festival. He has taught in Edinburgh, London, Madrid and Dumfries. He teaches at Glasgow University, Crichton Campus in Dumfries, where he is a Senior Lecturer in creative writing and storytelling. In 2007, he received a Creative Scotland Award. His latest work In The Becoming, New and Selected Poems (Polygon) will be launched at the Borders Book Festival.


Read further details of the books and authors who made the poetry shortlist.

First book

Andrea McNicoll, Moonshine in the Morning (Alma Books)

Commenting on the book’s selection as winner in the First Book category Alan Riach on behalf of the judges said:

‘In a Thailand village full of vivid presences – spicy food, strong drink – a range of exhilarating characters in various occupations begin to feel the priorities of modernity, money and power encroaching, changing their lives forever. Unexpectedly deepening, this astonishingly accomplished, lucid debut blends sometimes crazy humour with a tragic sense of a society ending.’


As sharp and delicious as a Thai red curry, the beautifully crafted interlinking narratives of Moonshine in the Morning present an unforgettable cast of strong-minded women and their wayward husbands clinging to village life in Thailand before the relentless advance of modernity.

How can Mother Nong and Mother Pensri save their menfolk from terrifying visions of “widow ghosts”, when Uncle Lai’s moonshine stall does such brisk business? What drastic steps will Mother Suree take to curb her husband’s infidelities on the eve of the Loy Krathong festival? And is the sacred banyan tree dying because the men are gambling about its size, or because the women are lighting too many oil lamps under its ancient boughs? Achieving both charm and authenticity, Andrea McNicoll subtly builds up her characters and themes to create a world so distant in its geography, and yet so familiar in its intimate human dramas, as to be utterly irresistible.

Andrea McNicoll, 'Moonshine in the Morning'

Author Biography

Andrea McNiccol Andrea McNicoll is a fluent Thai speaker who lived and worked in Thailand for twelve years. A graduate of Glasgow University’s prestigious Creative Writing MPhil programme, she lives and works in Glasgow. Moonshine in the Morning is her first book.

Read further details of the books and authors who made the first book shortlist.

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