Watch the Awards full ceremony

The shortlisted titles for the 2023 Scotland’s National Book Awards this year include books on climate change, the importance of male friendships, King James VI and deeply personal memoir. The winners of all six prizes, as well as the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, The Lifetime Achievement Award, The Ross Roy Medal and three industry awards, will be announced at a ceremony at in Glasgow on 7 December 2023.


Scotland’s National Book Awards, co-ordinated by the Saltire Society, recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and three publishing categories (Publisher, Emerging Publisher and Cover Design).  The Literary Awards see the winners each receive a cash prize of £2,000 and go on to be considered for the top Award of Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £4,000.


Sarah Mason, Executive Director of The Saltire Society, said: “The 2023 shortlists for Scotland’s National Book Awards show the outstanding talent, scale, diversity and excellence that we are so lucky to have in Scotland today.  These Awards have a proud history of celebrating the extraordinary richness in the work of our authors, publishers and designers and we congratulate everyone who have been shortlisted this year. "


Authors nominated for the 2023 First Book shortlist take readers on a darkly funny, heart-wrenching and deeply compassionate exploration of individuality, friendship and community (Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave), examine the fight to overcome class, gender and society (The Maiden by Kate Foster) and recall the final days of the whaling industry in Antarctica (Lorraine Wilson’s Mother Sea).


Elissa Soave said “What an honour to be shortlisted for Scotland's National Book Awards for my first book. Ginger and Me is a story that places young working-class women centre stage, and I am delighted that this shortlisting will help to take those voices to a wider audience.”


The Scottish Non-Fiction Award shortlist includes A Pebble In The Throat: Growing Up Between Two Continents, the moving and raw memoir from Aasmah Mir, a luminous tribute to a friend lost (Boy Friends by Michael Pedersen), an eloquent study of the womb (Leah Hazard’s Womb: The Inside Story of Where We All Began), a behind-the-scenes tour of the produce aisle revealing extraordinary and urgent stories about our everyday meals (Avocado Anxiety by Louise Gray), and a journal that looks into the enduring obsession with borders (The Edge of the Plain by James Crawford).


Louise Gray, author of Avocado Anxiety, saidIt means a lot to me to be recognised by Scotland’s Book Awards. My book is rooted in my family heritage as the great granddaughter of an Edinburgh greengrocer and asks questions about where our fruit and vegetables come from today. What we eat is so important to our health, but also to our environment. In Scotland and all over the world we need to know the impact of producing our food so we can make better decisions, and I hope feel a little less anxious about avocados.


The Scottish Research Book of the Year Award is run in partnership with the National Library of Scotland, with each nomination in this category representing a significant body of research that offers new insight or adds a new dimension to its subject.  This year’s Research Book of the Year Award covers, architecture, wartime tales, politics, Scotland’s Lascar heritage, French painting from 1500 to 1800 and the geology of Cromarty.


Alison Stevenson, Director of Collections, Access & Research at National Library of Scotland, said “The National Library of Scotland creates opportunities for people to participate in Scotland’s rich cultural life and so are pleased to support Scotland’s National Book Awards which celebrate and connect those who write books with those who enjoy them.”


The significance of Scotland’s history and heritage is celebrated in partnership with The Scottish Historical Review Trust through the History Book Award. This year sees six titles

shortlisted.  They include a genuinely fresh and original work by Sarah Laurenson on Scotland's Jewellery Craft, 1780-1914; the first account, by David Taylor, of how colonial and global exchanges transformed Badenoch and a fascinating study by Ian Hart of the neglected and tragic story of the Harris whaling industry.


Professor Laura Stewart, representing the Scottish Historical Review Trust, said: "This is a shortlist impressive for its range of subject matter and the quality of the writing. The way in which the shortlist as a whole places this country and its people into European and global contexts speaks volumes about the outward-looking, intellectually expansive nature of both scholarly and popular history writing in Scotland today. Commendations also to all our publishers for a set of beautifully illustrated and presented works."


Scotland’s Poetry Book of the Year Shortlist exemplifies the diversity of writing with a vividly lyrical journey through adolescence (Too Hot To Sleep by Elspeth Wilson) and the creative versions of Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair’s poetry, bringing new vibrancy to Gaelic culture (Taylor Strickland’s Dastram / Delirium) as well as an exploration of the connections between landscape, language and the body (Another Way to Split Water by Alycia Pirmohamed).


In addition to the National Book Awards, the Saltire Society presents three industry awards; Publisher of the Year and Emerging Publisher of the Year which are presented in partnership with Publishing Scotland and Book Cover of the Year which celebrates the enormous talent in Scottish design and the importance of the relationship between the designer, publisher and author.  Shortlists for these awards will be announced the week beginning the 27th November.


The Ross Roy Medal, commemorating the outstanding contribution to Scottish literature made by Professor G. Ross Roy of South Carolina University, is awarded annually to the best PhD thesis submitted on a subject relating to Scottish literature and judged by the University Committee for Scottish Literature.


The Lifetime Achievement Award is for individuals who have made and are making a lasting impact and are imbedded in the literary culture of Scotland.  Nominees must be either born in Scotland, are currently living in Scotland or working in or for Scotland and have been put forward by members of the general public.


The Scottish National Book Awards have been awarded by the Saltire Society since 1937 and in 2023 are supported by The National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Historical Review Trust and by the estate of Saltire Society Member Alistair George Gunn.  All entrants must be born in Scotland, live in Scotland or their books must be about Scotland. 


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 in Glasgow on Thursday 7 December 2023, attended by the judges, shortlisted authors and publishers.  The ceremony will be live-streamed and tickets to watch online are available from 27 November on


Fiction Award – Shortlist

·      Crann-fìge / Fig Tree by Duncan Gillies published by Acair.

·      Electricity by Angus Peter Campbell publisher Luath Press Ltd,

·      HellSans by Ever Dundas published by Watkins Media - Angry Robot Books.

·      In Ascension by Martin MacInnes published by Atlantic Books.

·      Mother Sea by Lorraine Wilson published by Fairlight Books.

·      Orpheus Builds a Girl by Heather Parry publisher Gallic Books

Non Fiction Award – Shortlist

·         Avocado Anxiety: and Other Stories About Where Your Food Comes From by Louise Gray published by Bloomsbury Wildlife.

·         A Pebble In The Throat: Growing Up Between Two Continents by Aasmah Mir, published by Headline

·         Boy Friends by Michael Pedersen publisher Faber & Faber

·         The Edge of the Plain: How Borders Make and Break Our World by James Crawford published by Canongate Books.

·         Womb: The Inside Story of Where We All Began by Leah Hazard publisher Virago.

History Award – Shortlist

·           The Material Landscapes of Scotland’s Jewellery Craft, 1780-1914 by Sarah Laurenson. Publisher Bloomsbury.

·           Majestic River: Mungo Park and the Exploration of the Niger by Charles Withers publisher Birlinn Ltd.

·           One Mans Legacy: Tom Patey by Mike Dixon, published by Scottish Mountaineering Press.

·           The Whalers of Harris by Ian Hart publisher Acair.

·           THE PEOPLE ARE NOT THERE’ The Transformation of Badenoch 1800–1863 by David Taylor published by Birlinn Ltd.

·           THE EARLY LIFE OF JAMES VI: A Long Apprenticeship, 1566–1585 by Steven J. Reid published by Birlinn Ltd.

Research Award – Shortlist

·           Mousa to Mackintosh: The Scottishness of Scottish Architecture by Frank Arneil Walker published by Historic Environment Scotland.

·           Cha Till Mise by Ruaraidh G MacIlleathain published by Acair.

·           Politics and the People: Scotland, 1945-1979 by Malcolm Petrie published by Edinburgh University Press.

·           Scotland's Lascar Heritage by Isobel McDonald, Malini Chakrabarty, Emily Malcolm, David Featherstone, Emily Munro, Hasaam Latif, Derek Law, Kulsum Shabbir, Sarwar Hassan, Tareq Abdullah,  Saif Khan, Aqsa Arif, Aaron Jaffer published by Glasgow Museums Publishing.

·           French Paintings 1500–1900 by Michael Clarke and Frances Fowle published by National Galleries of Scotland Publishing.

·           The Old Red Sandstone, or, New Walks in an Old Field by Hugh Miller, edited by Michael A. Taylor and Ralph O Connor publisher NMS Enterprises Limited.


Poetry Award – Shortlist

·         Another Way to Split Water by Alycia Pirmohamed published by Birlinn Ltd

·         Burning Season by Yvonne Reddick publisher Bloodaxe Books.

·         Dastram / Delirium by Taylor Strickland published by Broken Sleep Books.

·         The Swailing by Patrick James Errington, publisher McGill-Queens University Press.

·         Too Hot to Sleep by Elspeth Wilson published by Bent Key Publishing.


First Book Award – Shortlist

·      Confessions of a Highland Art Dealer by Tony Davidson published by Woodwose Books

·      For Thy Great Pain have Mercy on my Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

·      Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave publisher HQ, a division of HarperCollins

·      My Margaret, Your Toshie by Keith Adamson published by Luath Press Ltd.

·      The Maiden by Kate Foster publisher Pan Macmillan

·      The Two-Headed Whale by Sandy Winterbottom published by Birlinn Ltd


Lifetime Achievement Award

The Award was open to online public nominations from May until 15 August.  The Awardee will be decided by a panel of individuals from the literary community.  Previous winners:  Alasdair Gray (2019) and Douglas Dunn (2021).