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Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year 2006 announced


The People’s Act of Love by James Meek is the winner of this year’s Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. The much-acclaimed novel set in the cinematic snowdrifts of Siberia during the Russian revolution has won the £10,000 award – the biggest award specifically for a Scottish writer. The award will be presented at a ceremony today (Saturday 19 August) at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

James Meek was up against stiff competition from an exceptionally strong shortlist which also included Ali Smith and Kathleen Jamie. Both Kathleen and Ali will receive a cheque for £2000.  All three shortlisted authors are already award winners with James Meek previously winning the Ondaatje Award, while Ali Smith’s The Accidental  won last year’s Whitbread Novel Award.  Kathleen Jamie, author of Findings, won last year’s Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award with her poetry collection The Tree House. 

The judging panel - Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council; Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library; and the author Meaghan Delahunt (a previous winner of a Book Award)- describe The People’s Act of Love as:

‘. . . a novel of extraordinary ambition and imaginative compass. Meek’s magisterial powers of realisation – of both character and place – are matched by a narrative of great intensity and drive. The author is unafraid of his mighty concatenation of daunting themes – cannibalism, castration, and communism – and confronts philosophical complexities surrounding identity and fanaticism with a sophistication unequalled by many world-class writers. This book is a prodigious achievement.’

The awards will be presented at a sell-out event hosted by Richard Holloway, Chairman of the Scottish Arts Council and published author.   Dr Holloway commented:

 ‘The three books in our short list are all exceptional, and between them, they define the extraordinary richness of Scottish writing.  The winner, James Meek’s ‘The People’s Act of Love’,  can only be described as an awesome achievement.  Many years in the writing, it has all the passion and complexity of the great Russian classics.  It is a book whose appeal will endure long after most of the books published today are forgotten.’

This is the first year that the Scottish Arts Councils Book Awards ceremony has been held at the Edinburgh International Book Festival combining two of the big events on the Scottish literary calendar.  Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council and member of the judging panel explained:

 ‘Hosting the Scottish Arts Council Book Awards at the Edinburgh International Book Festival gives us an opportunity to promote the very best of Scottish literature to an international audience at one of the key events for the global literature world.‘

Notes to editors

  1. The Awards ceremony will take place in the Scottish Power Studio Theatre at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, at 12pm on Saturday 19 August.
  2. The Scottish Arts Council 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. Further information is available on our website.
  3. The Scottish Arts Council Book Awards are funded by the National Lottery funds through the Scottish Arts Council. Since the lottery began in 1994 the Scottish Arts Council has distributed over £230 million of lottery funding to the arts in Scotland.
  4. Previous recipients of the awards have included Ali Smith (Hotel World, 2002), William Dalrymple (White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-century India, 2003) and James Robertson (Joseph Knight, 2004).


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Issued by: Scottish Arts Council

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