The Saltire Society has announced the shortlist for the 2021 National Book Awards, and will name the winner at a ceremony on 27 November.

Scotland’s National Book Awards has six literary categories and three publishing categories. In addition the Calum MacDonald Memorial Award for the publisher of an outstanding pamphlet poetry work will be presented.

Each winner in the book categories receives a cash prize of £2,000 and will be considered for the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £5,000 if they win.

Sarah Mason, Director of the Saltire Society, said: “We are delighted to be back celebrating Scottish books and publishing through Scotland’s National Book Awards.  The last two years have been difficult for everyone, but the strength and resilience we have seen from our publishers, authors and designers is inspiring.  Scotland’s National Book Awards have a long history of celebrating the richness of work happening in Scotland and the 2021 Awards are another stellar year. Congratulations to all our Shortlistees.”

There is also the Lifetime Achievement Award and as in past years will be presented to an individual who has made a meaningful creative contribution to the world of literature. It was first awarded to Alasdair Gray in 2019. Nominations are made by the public and a panel of judges decides on the winner.

The winners of each category will receive a bespoke Award created by Inverness-based artist Simon Baker of Evergreen Studios.  Winners of all the Awards will be announced at a ceremony at Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow on the evening of Saturday 27 November attended by the judges, shortlisted authors and publishers.  The ceremony will be live-streamed and tickets to watch online are available now on

2021 Scotland’s National Book of the Year Awards SHORTLISTS

Scotland’s National Book Awards Poetry Book of the Year 

Peter Mackay, Nàdar De | Some Kind of (Acair)

Owen Gallagher, Clydebuilt (Smokestack Books)

Thomas A Clark, The Threadbare Coat (Carcanet Press)

Daisy Lafarge, Life Without Air (Granta)

Andrew Greig, Later That Day (Polygon)

Garry Mackenzie, Ben Dorain:  a conversation with a mountain (The Irish Pages Press)

Scotland’s National Book Awards First Book of the Year 

Vanessa Harryhausen, Ray Harryhausen:  Titan of Cinema (National Galleries of Scotland Publishing)

Graeme Armstrong, The Young Team (Pan MacMillan/Picador)

Elle McNicoll, A Kind of Spark (Knights Of)

Roddy Murray, Bleak:  the mundane comedy (Saraband)

Aoife Lyall, Mother, Nature (Bloodaxe Books)

Keith Broomfield, If Rivers Could Sing (Tippermuir Books)

Scotland’s National Book Awards Fiction Book of the Year 

David F Ross, There’s Only One Danny Garvey (Orenda Books)

Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (Pan Macmillan/Picador)

Jenni Fagan, Luckenbooth (Penguin Randomhouse)

Kirstin Innes, Scabby Queen (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins)

Ely Percy, Duck Feet (Monstrous Regiment Publishing Ltd)

Scotland’s National Book Awards Non-Fiction Book of the Year 

Patrick Laurie, Native:  Life in a Vanishing Landscape (Berlinn Ltd)

Cal Flyn, Islands of Abandonment (William Collins)

Tom Wood, Ruxton:  The First Modern Murder (Ringwood Publishing)

Shelly Klein, The See-Through House:  My Father in Full Colour (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, Penguin Randomhouse UK)

Peter Ross, A Tomb With a View (Headline Publishing Group)

Joe Donnelly, Checkpoint (404 Ink)

Special Mention:

Kenneth Roy, In Case of Any News (ICS Books)

Scotland’s National Book Awards Research Book of the Year 

supported by the National Library of Scotland.

Wilson McLeod, Gaelic in Scotland:  Policies, Movements, Ideologies (Edinburgh University Press)

Ian Armit & Lindsey Buster, Darkness Visible:  The Sculptor’s Cave, Covesea, from the Bronze Age to the Picts (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)

Frank Rennie, The Changing Outer Hebrides (Acair)

Nigel Leask, Stepping Westward:  Writing the Highland Tour c 1720-1830 (Oxford University Press)

Richard Whatmore, Terrorists, Anarchists and Republicans:  The Genevans and the Irish in Time of Revolution (Princeton University Press)

The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award supported by the Scottish Historical Review Trust.

Ness Historical Society Editorial Team with Rachel Barrowman, History with Heart and Soul (Acair)

Ewan Biggs, Coal Country:  The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland (University of London Press)

Laura Stewart and Janay Nugent, Union and Revolution:  Scotland and Beyond 1625 – 1745 (Edinburgh University Press)

Fiona Edmonds, Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom:  The Golden Age and the Viking Age (Boydell & Brewer)

Richard Oram, David I:  King of Scots 1124 – 1153 (Berlinn Ltd)

Maria Hayward, Stuart Style:  Monarchy, Dress and the Scottish Male Elite (Yale University Press)

Calum Macdonald Memorial Award Shortlist: 

Stichill Marigold

Broken Sleep

Roncadora Press


Stewed Rhubarb

Mariscat Press

Publishing Awards

Scotland’s National Book Awards Publisher of the Year in partnership with Publishing Scotland.

Heather McDaid, 404 Ink 

Jean Findlay, Scotland Street Press 

Samuel McDowell, Charco Press 

Melissa Tombere, Canongate Books

Scotland’s National Book Awards Emerging Publisher of the Year in partnership with Publishing Scotland

Bethany Ferguson, Rights Executive, Canongate Books 

Jamie Norman, Campaigns Executive, Canongate Books

Ceris Jones, Campaigns Manager, Sandstone Press

Louise Hutton, Assistant Editor, Edinburgh University Press

Scotland’s National Book Awards Book Cover of the Year

Craig Paton, Killtopia – Dave Cook (BHP Comics)

Cavan Convery & Ryan McGoverne, It’s About Time – Lesley Storm (Leamington Books)

Iain McIntosh (Illustrations), Abigail Salvesen (Design), In a Time of Distance – Alexander McCall Smith (Polygon, an imprint of Berlinn)

Andrew Latimer, Apocalypse:  An Anthology – Edited by James Keery (Carcanet Press)

Pablo Font, Fate – Jorge Consiglio (Charco Press)

Pablo Font, The Adventures of China Iron – Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Charco Press)