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Fiction |  Non-fictionPoetry | First book

Fiction shortlist

Kate Atkinson, When Will There Be Good News?
James Buchan, The Gate of Air
Beatrice Colin, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite
Andrew Crumey, Sputnik Caledonia
Meaghan Delahunt, The Red Book
James Kelman, Kieron Smith,Boy
Kei Miller, The Same Earth

 Commenting on the Fiction shortlist Pat Kane on behalf of the judges said:

“This year has served up a shortlist of Scottish fiction marked by a fierce contemporary intelligence; a stylistic confidence that spans high modernism, ornate realism and low farce; and an easy global range of reference that indicates the ambition of this generation of Scottish writers.”

Kate Atkinson, When Will There Be Good News? 

Synopsis - In rural Devon, six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison. In Edinburgh, sixteen-year-old Reggie works as a nanny for a G.P. But Dr Hunter has gone missing and Reggie seems to be the only person who is worried. Across town, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling towards her is an old friend -- Jackson Brodie -- himself on a journey that becomes fatally interrupted.

Author Biography - Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year for her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been an international bestselling author ever since. Her most recent novels, Case Histories and One Good Turn, both also featured the former private detective Jackson Brodie.

James Buchan, The Gate of Air
(Maclehouse Press)

Synopsis - When loner Jim Smith moves into remote Paradise Farmhouse, he experiences some strange midnight visits from an ethereal woman. He later discovers that this dream-like figure is the incarnation of a 1960s beauty, immortalized in a famous nude portrait that belongs to his neighbour. Intrigued, Jim abandons his customary aloofness to investigate her manner of death and subsequently accepts a dinner invitation from her remarried husband, an insensitive billionaire thug, and his beautiful but mistreated wife.

The dinner party – a chance for a brilliantly satirical sketch of the braying upper class hunting set – is disastrous and, soon after, Jim’s pastoral idyll disintegrates. His lambs die. Cows give no milk. Bees swarm. Sensing his ghostly lover has turned malevolent, Jim knows he must placate her before the circle of decay reaches those he loves – even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.
Both unsettling ghost story and intense love story, The Gate of Air is by turns poetic, learned, satirical and allegorical. This is a beautifully crafted novel about love and loneliness, life and death, and the indelible traces we leave behind us when we die.

Author Biography - James Buchan was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford and began his career as a Financial Times correspondent, writing from the Middle East, Germany, and the United States. Regarded as an outstanding literary critic, novelist and non-fiction writer, his first novel, A Parish of Rich Women, won the Whitbread Book of the Year award in 1984 as well a Betty Trask Award and his last novel Heart's Journey in Winter was awarded the Guardian Prize.


His non-fiction titles include a biography of Adam Smith; Frozen Desire: an Inquiry into the Meaning of Money and Capital of the Mind: Edinburgh 1745-89. He is married and is the grandson of John Buchan, the Scottish novelist and diplomat.

Beatrice Colin, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite
(John Murray)

Synopsis - The debaucherous celebration of the cabaret-era. The magical ascent of cinema. The deprivation of World War I and the build-up to World War II. Set against the rise and fall of Berlin and the innovations in art that accompanied it all, The Glimmer Palace brilliantly weaves together the story of one orphan girl’s remarkable journey from poverty to film stardom, with an illuminating account of an astonishing history. The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin

Author Biography - Beatrice Colin was born in London and grew up in Scotland. She has worked as a freelance journalist for publications including the Guardian, and as a playwright, writing radio plays for the BBC. She lives in Glasgow.

Andrew Crumey, Sputnik Caledonia

Synopsis - Robbie Coyle dreams of going to space. In 1970s Scotland this ambition marks him out almost as much as his eccentric family does – in particular, his avidly socialist father. Indoctrinated in the ways of the Left, Robbie can’t entertain the idea of going into orbit with the capitalist Americans. So he gets a ‘teach yourself Russian’ book from the library and settles down with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity by his side.

Later, however, his fantasies take on a darker shade. In an imagined communist Scotland, post-WWII, the young recruit Robert finds himself at ‘The Installation’, a closed, bleak town run under surveillance and dedicated to scientific research. Astronomers have discovered a black hole and the Party will stop at nothing to attain it. The Red Star, as it comes to be known, heralds both the awakening and the extinguishing of Robert’s adulthood: the discovery of cruelty and of love; and the realization that the most passionate of dreams may be merely a chimera.

Written with Andrew Crumey’s characteristic brio, Sputnik Caledonia is rich with the tenderness and frustrations of family life, comic and sinister by turns, and above all, audaciously imaginative – an exploration of space, of society, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.

Author Biography - Andrew Crumey has a PhD in theoretical physics and was from 2000 to 2006 Literary Editor of Scotland On Sunday. He is the author of five previous novels, which have variously won the Saltire First Book Award, been long-listed for both the Booker Prize and the Guardian Fiction Prize, and been finalists in the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Sputnik Caledonia received the £60,000 Northern Rock Foundation Writer’s Award. Andrew lives in Newcastle with his wife and two children.

Meaghan Delahunt, The Red Book

Synopsis - An Australian, a Tibetan and a Scot walk into a boarding house in Delhi. This is not the start of a joke, but the premise of Meaghan Delahunt's second novel. The three each walk into the house at different times, but coincidence - or is it destiny? - brings them together in different parts of India: Dharamsala, at a Buddhist monastery; Bhopal, on the 20th anniversary of the Union Carbide gas disaster; and on a bus from Agra to Jaipur. Each of the characters carries some personal baggage: Francoise, the Australian photographer, has just left a long-term relationship; Arkay, the Scot, is battling alcoholism; Naga, the Tibetan, was forced as a child to flee his home and become a refugee, and later lost his family to the gas leak in Bhopal.

Author Biography - Born in Melbourne, Australia, Meaghan Delahunt has lived in Edinburgh for around 15 years and now lectures in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews.
While living in Australia, Delahunt dropped out of her University degree to join the Socialist Workers Party of Australia, and took a job at a General Motors car assembly line where she became a union leader and wrote for the SWP newspaper. After eight years she left the SWP, and in 1991 she left Australia to travel and live in South East Asia and India. Her first novel, In The Blue House, was published in 2001 and nominated for the Orange Prize, won the Saltire First Book Prize, a Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Prize, and a regional Commonwealth Prize.

James Kelman, Kieron Smith, boy
(Hamish Hamilton)

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

Author Biography - 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

Kei Miller, The Same Earth
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Synopsis - It all begins with the theft of Tessa Walcott's polkadot panties and a river that changes course overnight...
When Imelda Richardson leaves the small village of Watersgate, Jamaica, armed only with one small suitcase, she is doing so for the second time. One of the throng of young Jamaicans who left the island after the devastating hurricane of 1974, Imelda's journey has taken her to England, to the home of ganja-growing rebel Purletta Johnson, the arms of fake Northerner Ozzie, and a law degree. But when her mother dies Imelda returns to Watersgate, choosing Jamaica over England. 1983 is still a couple of years shy of the great dancehall explosion in which artistes like Shabba Ranks would sing how he ‘loved punany bad’, and the village is still dominated by the Evangelical church and the thundering voice of Pastor Braithwaite. When Tessa Walcott's panties are stolen – and in the absence of Perry Mason - she and Imelda decide to set up a Neighbourhood Watch. But they haven’t counted on Pastor Braithwaite and the crusading zeal of Evangelist Millie. As a Pentecostal fervour sweeps through the village, the tensions between old and new come to a head.

Author Biography - Kei Miller was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1978. In 2004 he left to study for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and now divides his time between Jamaica and the UK. His stories and poems have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, and he has won a number of Jamaican literary awards. Kei Miller

He has published two collections of poetry, Kingdom of Empty Bellies and There is an Anger that Moves, which has been longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize for Young Writers. His collection of short stories, The Fear of Stones, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ prize for Best First Book in 2007. The Same Earth won the Una Marson Prize for Literature, the most prestigious literary award in Jamaica, before it was published, and was selected for the Waterstones ‘New Voices’ campaign. He has been a visiting writer at universities in Canada and the Caribbean, and is currently teaching Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

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