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Fiction |  Non-fiction | Poetry | First book

Non-fiction shortlist

Kate Clanchy, Antigona and Me
Janice Galloway, This is Not About Me
Rodge Glass, Working with Alasdair Gray: A Secretary's Biography
Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence

Commenting on the Non-Fiction shortlist, Dr Gavin Wallace on behalf of the judges said:

"What unites these powerfully distinctive works is their bold defiance of categorisationand form as a necessary reflex to equally challenging material, themes, and subjects: the nerve-shredding vulnerability, terror and absurdity of childhood; the trauma of the refugee forming the solace of friendship; the biographer adopting the subersive fictional techniques of his subject to do justice to one of Scotland's greatest artists; a fusion of memoir, analytical essay, philosophical meditation, and provocation driving a passionate quest to reclaim our lost ability to understand silence. These are richly individual, urgently necessary books".

Kate Clanchy, Antigona and Me

Synopsis - 'Antigona,' I said. 'How would you feel if I wrote your life down in a book?'
'Good,' she said. 'Good. And then a feature film actually. Mini-series. Because there are a thousand women behind me in this country, having shit lives, 'scuse my language. No one can understand their lives, here.'
Antigona and Me (formerly titled What Is She Doing Here?) is a memoir of the five years the poet Kate Clanchy spent living closely with Antigona, a Kosovan refugee. Antigona becomes her project, her protégée, her cleaner, her nanny, and slowly, through hours of conversation and negotiations of difference, her friend.

Through the story of the women's growing understanding is woven the dramatic tale of Antigona's great escape - from Milosevic, from her forced, violent marriage, and from the
most traditional pastoral society in Europe - and the growing toll of her losses, as she and her rebellious teenage daughters negotiate London. Antigona's wit and vertiginous perspectives on contemporary life illuminate and transform the way the writer thinks, bringing many hard truths uncomfortably close to home.

Kate Clanchy Author Biography - Kate Clanchy was born and grew up in Scotland but now lives in England. She is a popular poet: her collections, Slattern, Samarkand and Newborn have brought her many literary awards and an unusually wide audience. She has also written extensively for Radio 4 and reviews and writes comment for the Guardian.

Janice Galloway, This is Not About Me

Synopsis - 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. Book Cover of Janice Galloway, This is not about me

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.

Author Biography - 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.

Rodge Glass, Working with Alasdair Gray: A Secretary's Biography

Synopsis / Biography - Rodge Glass is now a novelist (No Fireworks and Hope for Newborns, Faber, 2005 and 2008), but wasn’t when he first encountered Gray in a Glasgow pub in 1998. Since then, while pursuing his own writing ambitions, he has filled many roles in the life of the writer/artist. He has taken dictation whenever and wherever asked: whether Gray is in bed, in hospital or drinking soup cold from the can, he is there with a pad or a laptop, awaiting instructions. He has been barman, tutee, secretary, signature forger, driver, researcher, advisor, chief technology negotiator, tea-maker and paper boy, with varying degrees of success. In this book Glass attempts one more role – biographer. Born in Manchester, he lives in Glasgow.

Book cover of Alasdair Gray, A secretary's biography

Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence

Synopsis - For about the last 10 years Sara Maitland has been trying to understand more about silence: what it might mean in 21st century; what effects it has on people; how it has been used and understood in the past; why we are so frightened of it; and why she has come to love it so much.
Her new book is an account of that adventure, a sort of mixture of personal journey and cultural history, both deeply personal and intellectually exciting. In the course of researching and writing the book Maitland spent silent time in silent places – on Skye in the Hebrides; in the Sinai Desert; in forests and mountains; in a flotation tank; in monasteries and libraries. She was trying to match her personal experiences to those of other people – from fairy stories to single-handed sailors, from hermits and romantic poets to prisoners and castaways, from reading and writing to mountaineering and polar exploration, from mythology to psychoanalysis.

Biography - ‘I was born in 1950, the second of six children and grew up in London and South West Scotland. I went to Oxford University in 1968; I studied English and (more importantly) discovered feminism, socialism, Christianity and friendship, which have proved the bedrock of my adult life.
I always wanted to be a writer – and in 1972 Faber published some early short stories in a series they then called Introduction. I joined a wonderful feminist writing group with Zoe Fairbairns, Valerie Miner, Michele Roberts, and Michelene Wandor and we wrote Tales I Tell My Mother. This enabled me to write my first novel Daughter of Jerusalem, which won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1978. Since then I have been a writer. Mostly I write about women and the entangled emotions of terror and beauty. I use a lot of old stories from diverse traditions – fairy stories, myths and folk tales. I am a deeply committed (Roman Catholic) Christian, and that also informs my work. Short stories are my favourite genre, but I also write novels and non-fiction.’

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