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Lives, Losses and Scotlands: SMIT Book Awards


At last I’m able to unzip my lips and announce that The Ambulance Box has been shortlisted for the first book category in the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards 2010! I’ve had to sit on the news for about a fortnight until the Scottish Arts Council, which administers the prize, made it public. I mention that only because the news came in the week of the collection’s first birthday. As Chris, my editor, said: “Almost an anniversary present.” It hasn’t been easy not to blurt when people have asked me “So, how’s the poetry going?”

There are four category prizes in the awards:

  • Fiction (including short story)
  • Poetry
  • Literary Non-Fiction
  • First Book

I share the first-book shortlist with Momus’s Solution 11-167: The Book of Scotlands, Sarah Gabriel’s Eating Pomegranates and JO Morgan’s Natural Mechanical, which readers of this blog will know as the Aldeburgh winner. By my reckoning, this is the fourth year that the SMIT awards (formerly the Sundial/SAC book awards) have included this category. I’m pretty sure it’s only the first time there have been two poetry books and no novels in that shortlist too, so it’s an unusual pick.

I don’t envy the judges their task of choosing between the books. Choosing between books of the same genre must be hard enough but I imagine this is the most difficult category to pick. Still, I think there are connections between them: from what I know of the books,* I’d characterise it as a list of lives, losses and Scotlands even if that’s maybe stretching it a wee bit. We have to wait until next month to find out who the category winners are, then the overall winner — surely the hardest choice of all — will be announced in June at the Borders Book Festival.

The full shortlists are here. It’s a privilege to be keeping company with a poetry shortlist like that one, if only at a remove.

*Having read only Natural Mechanical so far, although I read a review of Solution 11-167 in the SRB.

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