Highland Book Prize 2023 Longlist Announced

Highland Book Prize 2023 Longlist
Alan Robertson

The Highland Book Prize has announced its 2023 Longlist.  Now in its seventh year, this year’s list sees strong representation from non-fiction, reflecting current publishing trends, as well as literary fiction, poetry, and commissioned works from well-known Scottish authors on key moments in Highland history.

The prize is presented by the Highland Society of London and Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s National Writing Centre, and celebrates literature that comes from the rich landscape and culture of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. This includes books written by authors who live in the Highlands or were born there, as well as books whose content is Highland themed.

Twelve books were selected from 76 eligible submitted titles by a team of volunteer readers with a diverse range of backgrounds and experience, in conjunction with the judging panel, Moniack Mhor, and the Highland Society of London.

The judging panel will now review each of the twelve titles to select a shortlist and, ultimately, a winner. The 2023 Judging Panel are poet and essayist, Jen Hadfield, whose collection The Stone Age won the 2021 Highland Book Prize; acclaimed multi-award winning fiction writer Cynan Jones; and Peter Mackay, poet, lecturer and broadcaster, whose collection Nàdar De was longlisted for the 2020 Highland Book Prize. Alex Ogilvie, Trustee for the Highland Society of London, is non-voting Chair.

The shortlist will be announced in May 2024. The winner will be revealed at an award ceremony held in partnership with Nairn Book & Arts Festival on Tuesday 3rd September.

Speaking about the selection process, Rachel Humphries, Centre Director at Moniack Mhor said, ‘I am always excited at the longlisting stage of the Highland Book Prize: it’s the first celebration of a collective effort between our wonderful volunteer reading panel, judges, and organisers. A lot has happened by now, it’s a joy and an education at the submission stage to see the breadth of literature that’s being created in or about the Highlands. This year, I’m particularly thrilled by the balance and the geography of the longlist with the prize reaching writers living in Shetland, Orkney, Inverness-shire, Assynt, Angus, and Edinburgh.’

‘Year on year, the prize never fails to surprise. This longlist explores and interrogates a broad range of themes from historical highland moments to the impact of climate change, ecology and wildlife, to the practices of the people much further afield, in the valley of the Mesta. I’m thankful for the eclectic nature of the prize. It teaches us and connects us more deeply with place through so many different and talented voices.’

Highland Book Prize Longlist 2023

  • The Bone Cave: A Journey Through Myth and Memory, Dougie Strang (Non-Fiction, Birlinn)

  • Briny, Mandy Haggith (Poetry, Red Squirrel Press)

  • Columba’s Bones, David Greig (Fiction, Birlinn)

  • Elixir: In the Valley at the End of Time, Kapka Kassabova (Non-Fiction, Jonathan Cape)

  • Footprints in the Woods: The Secret Life of Forest and Riverbank, John Lister Kaye (Non-Fiction, Canongate)

  • Kitchen Music, Lesley Harrison (Poetry, Carcanet Press)

  • Nothing Left to Fear from Hell, Alan Warner (Fiction, Birlinn)

  • Sea Bean, Sally Huband (Non-Fiction, Penguin)

  • Study for Obedience, Sarah Bernstein (Fiction, Granta)

  • Turas, Iain D. Urchardan (Poetry, Acair)

  • Wild Air: In Search of Birdsong, James Macdonald Lockhart (Non-Fiction, Fourth Estate)

  • Wild History: Journeys into Lost Scotland, James Crawford (Non-Fiction, Birlinn)