Our website uses cookies. See our cookies page for information about them and how you can remove or block them. Click here to opt in to our cookies

Kapka Kassabova wins 2017 Saltire Book of the Year Award

Published: 01 Dec 2017

Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova has been announced as the Scottish Book of the Year by the Deputy First Minister John Swinney at the Saltire Literary Awards 2017.

The non-fiction book looks at the borderlines that exist between countries, cultures and people. Describing it, the judges noted: ‘If ever there was a book for our times, it is Border: A journey to the Edge of Europe, delves into the stories of when the lines that separate countries on the map harden once more after their Cold War thaw. It is at once timely and timeless, with Kassabova - the poet and travel writer by trade - blending skills to spin something truly magical, and sadly, entirely necessary.’

Now firmly established as Scotland’s most prestigious annual book awards, the Saltire Society Literary Awards are supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland and celebrate and support literary and academic excellence across six distinct categories. The winner of each individual book award wins a £2,000 cash prize and goes forward to be considered for the Saltire Book of the Year award and an accompanying cash prize of £3,000.

Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe was also named 2017 Saltire Society Scottish Non Fiction Book of the Year.

Each shortlisted author deserves huge congratulations for contributing such diverse and important works to the Scottish literary canon this year. Also, for making our judging panel discussions enjoyable but challenging, like the books themselves.- Alan Bett, Literature Officer

Other award winners this year included Memory and Straw, Angus Peter Campbell‘s novel about the struggle for freedom, personal identity and what it means to be human won the Scottish Fiction Book of the Year; Goblin by Ever Dundas, a novel set between the past and present with magical realist elements won First Book of the Year; Bird-Woman by Em Strang, a collection dedicated to and claiming kin with every living thing won Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award; The Light Blue Book: 500 Years of Gaelic Love and Transgressive Verse edited by Peter Mackay & Iain MacPherson which presents a new view of a Gaelic culture of erotic and bawdy poetry was presented the Research Book of the Year Award.

Kapka Kassabova collected both awards at a special ceremony at the Central Hall in Edinburgh on St Andrew’s Day evening, 30 November 2017.

Also announced at the awards ceremony was the winner of the 2017 Saltire Publisher of the Year Award, which went to Birlinn, who over its 25 years of publishing, Birlinn has consistently produced interesting, important and quality books with high production values.

Only in its second year, the winner of the Saltire Emerging Publisher of the Year Award was also announced as being presented jointly to founders of indie publisher 404Ink, Laura Jones and Heather McDaid, whose dedication and innovation are changing the face of modern Scottish publishing.

Commenting on winning the Saltire Book of the Year Award, Kapka Kassabova said:

"It is a great honour to receive this award which stands for everything I admire and cherish in my adopted homeland of Scotland. Border is in part about how dogma breeds division, and how division damages people on both sides of an artificial divide, but also within communities, families, individuals, even the unborn. Hard borders destroy our shared future. They breed ignorance and fear.

"Story-telling, memory, friendship, keeping an open heart - this is what heals and makes new pathways in the wake of collective trauma. I learnt it from my journey among the people and ghosts of the border. I hope that here in Scotland we will continue to cherish our hard-won freedoms and our curiosity about ourselves and the world - the birth right of every human being on earth, but a reality only for the lucky ones."

Programme Director of the Saltire Society Sarah Mason said:

"From poetry to publishing, fiction to academic studies, extending the length and breadth of the country and far beyond, this year’s Saltire Literary Awards are a testament to the outstanding calibre of modern Scottish literature in all its varied forms. Every one of the individual awards were hotly contested, making the judges’ decisions particularly challenging.

"My congratulations to all of the winners and my heartfelt thanks to the judging panels, to all of our partners and our supporters who have helped to make the 2017 Saltire Literary Awards such a resounding success."

Alan Bett, Literature Officer at Creative Scotland said:

"Each Saltire shortlisted author deserves huge congratulations for contributing such diverse and important works to the Scottish literary canon this year. Also, for making our judging panel discussions enjoyable but challenging, like the books themselves.

"Kapka Kassabova’s Border is a worthy and pertinent 2017 Saltire Book of the Year. It expands from the Balkan Peninsula to deliver a truly universal message, charting where we are now and, by reflecting history, where the author feels both politics and the real people’s lives intertwined with it may be headed.

"The Saltire Literary Awards offer an invaluable opportunity for those within Scotland to celebrate the quality and creativity of the work created by our wonderful writers and publishers and also to raise their wider profile both nationally and internationally.

"The Saltire Literary awards have long been regarded as the country’s most prestigious accolade for authors. We are proud to celebrate and support literary and academic excellence. And now, with a range of new partners and a refreshed style, this suite of awards truly reflects the commitment of civic Scotland to literature in all its forms."

2017 Saltire Literary Awards Shortlist and Winners

Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year Award, sponsored by Creative Scotland Shortlist

  • Ashland and Vine by John Burnside, published by Jonathan Cape
  • Memory and Straw by Angus Peter Campbell, published by Luath (winner)
  • Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty, published by Jonathan Cape
  • Dalila by Jason Donald, published by Jonathan Cape
  • The Long Drop by Denise Mina, published by Harvill Secker
  • That was a Shiver and Other Stories by James Kelman, published by Canongate

Saltire Society Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award Shortlist

  • Al Britannia, My Country: A Journey Through Muslim Britain by James Ferguson, published by Transworld Publishers
  • Scotland: Mapping the Islands edited by Christopher Fleet, Charles W.J. Withers, and Margaret Wilkes published by Birlinn
  • Love of Country by Madeleine Bunting published by Granta Books
  • Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova, published by Granta Books (winner)
  • Waypoints: Seascapes and Stories of Scotland's West Coast by ian Stephen, published by Bloomsbury
  • The Passion of Harry Bingo: Further Dispatches from Unreported Scotland by Peter Ross published by Sandstone Press Ltd

Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year Award, sponsored by the National Library of Scotland Shortlist

  • The Campbells of the Ark: Men of Argyll in 1745 (Vol I and II) by Ronald Black published by John Donald (Birlinn Ltd)
  • Muslims in Scotland: The Making of Community in a Post-9/11 World by Stefano Bonino published by Edinburgh University Press
  • History as Theatrical Metaphor by Ian Brown published by Palgrave Macmillan
  • The Light Blue Book: 500 Years of Gaelic Love and Transgressive Verse Edited by Peter Mackay & Iain MacPherson, published by Luath (winner)
  • Immortal Memory: Burns and the Scottish People by Christopher Whatley, published by John Donald (Birlinn Ltd)

Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award Shortlist

  • Still Life With Feeding Snake by John Burnside, published by Jonathan Cape
  • Farm by the Shore by Thomas A. Clark, published by Carcanet
  • Bird-Woman by Em Strang, published by Shearsman (winner)
  • Twist by Pippa Little, published by Arc
  • In Search of Dustie-Fute by David Kinloch, published by Carcanet Press
  • Moon for Sale by Richard Price, published by Carcanet

Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award shortlist

  • Goblin by Ever Dundas, published by Freight Books (winner)
  • The Case Room by Kate Hunter, published by Fledgling Press Ltd
  • Beneath the Skin by Sandra Ireland, published by Polygon
  • Language of my Choosing: A Creative Scots- Italian Memoir by Luath
  • Mary’s the Name by Ross Sayer, published by Cranachan Publishing
  • Fallow by Daniel Shand, published by Sandstone Press Ltd

On wining First Book of the Year Award, Ever Dundas said: "I’m delighted that Goblin has won the Saltire First Book of the Year Award. This is a great boost after quite a difficult year, and it’s particularly lovely news just before Goblin is republished by Saraband in December. I had some tough competition, so it’s a real honour to win. Many thanks to the Saltire Society and judges."

Saltire Publisher of the Year Award Shortlist

  • 404 Ink
  • BHP Comics
  • Birlinn (winner)
  • Canongate
  • Handspring
  • Vagabond Voices

Saltire Emerging Publisher of the Year Award Shortlist

  • Heather McDaid, 404 Ink (winner)
  • Kirstin Lamb, Barrington Stoke
  • Laura Jones, 404 Ink (winner)
  • Laura Waddell, Harper Collins