2020 Highland Book Prize Shortlist

The Highland Book Prize announced the 4 titles that have been selected for the 2020 longlist. Established in 2017, this literary prize celebrates the finest published work that recognizes the rich talent, landscape and cultural diversity of the Highlands.

The winner of the Highland Book Prize will be revealed on the May 8, 2021, at an event hosted by the Ullapool Book Festival, the Highland Society of London and Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre. The winning book will receive a prize of £1000 and a place on a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor. The shortlist is as follows:


The Nature of Summer by Jim Crumley

In the endless light of summer days, and the magical gloaming of the wee small hours, nature in Jim’s beloved Highlands, Perthshire and Trossachs heartlands is burgeoning freely, as though there is one long midsummer’s eve, nothing reserved.

For our flora and fauna, for the very land itself, this is the time of extravagant growth, flowering and the promise of fruit and the harvest to come. But despite the abundance, as Jim Crumley attests, summer in the Northlands is no Wordsworthian idyll. Climate chaos and its attendant unpredictable weather brings high drama to the lives of the animals and birds he observes.

There is also a wild, elemental beauty to the land, mountains, lochs, coasts and skies, a sense of nature at its very apex during this, the most beautiful and lush of seasons. Jim chronicles it all: the wonder, the tumult, the spectacle of summer. (Credit: Saraband)

To the Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace by Kapka Kassabova

Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. Two ancient lakes joined by underground rivers. Two lakes that seem to hold both the turbulent memories of the region’s past and the secret of its enduring allure. Two lakes that have played a central role in Kapka Kassabova’s maternal family.

As she journeys to her grandmother’s place of origin, Kassabova encounters a historic crossroads. The lakes are set within the mountainous borderlands of North Macedonia, Albania, and Greece, and crowned by the old Via Egnatia, which once connected Rome to Constantinople. A former trading and spiritual nexus of the southern Balkans, this lake region remains one of Eurasia’s most diverse corners. Meanwhile, with their remote rock churches, changeable currents, and large population of migratory birds, the lakes live in their own time.

By exploring on water and land the stories of poets, fishermen, and caretakers, misfits, rulers, and inheritors of war and exile, Kassabova uncovers the human destinies shaped by the lakes. Setting out to resolve her own ancestral legacy, Kassabova locates a deeper inquiry into how geography and politics imprint themselves upon families and nations, one that confronts her with universal questions about human suffering and the capacity for change. (Credit: Granta)

The Changing Outer Hebrides: Galson and the Meaning of Place by Frank Rennie

This is a fascinating and intimate account of the inter-relationship between one small island village in the Hebrides and the wider world. From the formation of the bedrock 3 billion years ago, to the predictable near-future, the layers of this unique landscape are explored. The social history of the people is closely interwoven with the natural environment in a journey of deep mapping to consider the meaning of special places. Through the Iron Age and the Clearances to the contemporary events of community land ownership, a portrayal is given that challenges the perception that this is a remote place, isolated at the edge, but instead is crucial to our contemporary relationship with the land. (Credit: Acair Books)

Summer by Ali Smith

In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world’s in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet.

In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.

This is a story about people on the brink of change.
They’re family, but they think they’re strangers.
So: where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?

Summer. (Credit: Hamish Hamilton)


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