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Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Awards: Announcement of winners

09/06/2005

The Scottish Arts Council is delighted to announce that Kathleen Jamie has won the 2005 Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award for her widely praised poetry collection, The Tree House. The award, a cheque for £10,000, will be presented by Patricia Ferguson, MSP, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport at a ceremony to be held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on Thursday 9 June 2005 (12.30 pm).

Minister & 2005 Book Award recipients; Photo: Graham Clark

Speaking in Edinburgh after presenting awards Patricia Ferguson MSP, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport said:

“These awards are a vital way of recognising and rewarding the wealth of talent that exists in Scotland. All of this year’s nominations demonstrate that Scotland’s writers have a great deal to offer.

“By celebrating the achievements of our writers we can ensure that Scotland’s literature continues to gain the acclaim it deserves both nationally and internationally."

Kathleen Jamie, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of St Andrews, received a Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Award in 2001 to develop this collection. The Tree House - a collection of 35 poems, strongly Scottish in landscape and language, but with a marked ecological approach - went on to win the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) in 2004, one of the most illustrious prizes available in the UK, before winning this prestigious award.

Edinburgh-based writer, Nicola Morgan, author of Sleepwalking, will be presented with a cheque for £5000 as winner of the Scottish Arts Council Children’s Book of the Year Award. Sleepwalking, a thriller set 150 years into the future, is one of over 65 books that Nicola has written for children. Her novel, Fleshmarket, was shortlisted for this award in 2004.

The winning titles were selected by two judging panels:

Children’s Book of the Year – John Burnside, novelist, poet and lecturer in creative writing (Chair); Elizabeth Laird, children’s novelist and winner of the 2004 Children’s Book of the Year Award; Jenny Attala, Literature Officer, Scottish Arts Council; plus four Junior Judges from Aberdeen, Stirling and Glasgow.

Book of the Year –  Duncan McLean, novelist, award-winning short story writer and non-fiction writer and founder of  Clocktower Press (Chair); Janice Galloway, award-winning novelist; Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature, Scottish Arts Council.

The judges commented on their choice of winners:

Duncan McLean:

‘The title poem of The Tree House features a jerry-built kids' playhouse with a sturdy bough erupting through the recycled planks of the walls: 'a lichened branch/wound through the wooden chamber.' And throughout this book, nature interposes itself again and again into the human world. To be more exact, nature is perceived as winding itself around and through human life, and even into human forms of behaviour: 'perceived' is important, for Jamie is not one for crude anthropomorphism, and these poems are at least as much about the startlingly acute perception of the poet as anything else. That the book contains poems of great clarity and beauty is no surprise, coming from Kathleen Jamie: that every single poem is of superlative quality is a tribute to the concentration and focus with which she has developed her gift.’

John Burnside:

‘Sleepwalking is a moving and uplifting story about freedom and the need we all have for joy and colour in our lives; it is also a beautifully sophisticated and intelligently wrought story about storytelling, about the histories we invent for ourselves, what they mean to us, and how they help us grow. Set in a bleak future world reminiscent of Brave New World, 1984 and other classics of the genre, Sleepwalking is that rare event: an engaging and highly entertaining page-turner that also raises fascinating and profoundly philosophical questions.’

Junior judges:

‘ This is a book that you stay up all night to read.’

‘Sleepwalking is challenging to the mind yet not so that the readers are lost within it. Readers within the 12 to 16 age group will find this a pleasant, interesting read.’

The judges selected The Tree House and Sleepwalking from a shortlist of six titles which included:

You Have to be Careful in the Land of the Free – by James Kelman (Hamish Hamilton)

The Places in Between – by Rory Stewart (Picador)

Space Pirates and The Treasures of Salmagundy –by Scoular Anderson  (Frances Lincoln)*

Skarrs – by Catherine Forde (Egmont)*

*denotes children’s title

The shortlisted authors each received a cheque for £2000, with the winner of the Children’s Book of the Year receiving a further £3000, and the winner of the Book of the Year a further £8000.

Notes to editors

1. The Scottish Arts Council (www.scottisharts.org.uk) champions the arts for Scotland, investing over £60 million from Scottish Executive and National Lottery funding to support and develop artistic excellence and creativity throughout Scotland.

2. The awards form an important part of the Scottish Arts Council’s Literature Strategy as a means of raising the prestige of Scotland’s literature nationally and internationally, and celebrating the achievements of writers.

3. The National Lottery ( www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk has generated £17 billion for good causes since it was created 10 years ago, funding more than 190,000 projects across the UK. During that time, the Scottish Arts Council has distributed £220 million of lottery funds, making over 5,000 awards to the arts in Scotland.

4. The Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Awards, funded through the National Lottery, support the nation’s leading artists to experiment and realise imaginative ideas in a major creative project. Up to ten recipients each receive £30,000 to develop their project. So far over 70 of Scotland’s leading artists have received the award. For more information on the Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Awards visit www.creativescotland.org.uk.

5. Winners will be available for photographs from the end of the award ceremony at approx 1.40pm. Any journalist wishing to interview the winners can do so after the photographers and should make themselves known to Jan Rutherford at the award ceremony. A quiet space is provided for press use. Photographers are welcome to take photographs during the award ceremony.

Contact email(s)

media.office@scottisharts.org.uk

Issued by: Scottish Arts Council

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