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Kelman wins Scottish Book Award

19 June 09 16:55 GMT

A book charting the life of a young boy in post-war Glasgow has won the Scottish Book of the Year award.

"Kieron Smith, boy", by Glasgow author James Kelman, a former Booker Prize winner, netted him the £30,000 award.

The winner was announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, hosted by writer and comedian Rory Bremner.

Mr Kelman said it was "an honour" to win the award for the novel, which was described as a "masterpiece" by the judging panel.

Managed by the Scottish Arts Council (SAC), the awards are now sponsored by the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (SMIT).

Mr Kelman, who won the 1994 Booker Prize with How late it was, how late, said: "There are good writers working in this country and it is an honour to be awarded the SMIT-SAC Book of the Year 2009.

"Like most other artists I'm self-employed. Awards and prizes are generally for work that we have produced.

"This allows us to develop new projects, produce future work. That is their value and no-one should underestimate how important that can be."

Sir Donald MacKay, SMIT chairman, said: "Although 2009 is the first year of Scottish Mortgage's involvement with these awards it marks the 100th year of the company's existence and in James Kelman we have a worthy overall winner."

The novel tells of a young boy whose family moves from a traditional tenement to a new housing scheme on the outskirts of the Glasgow.

Judge Pat Kane said: "James Kelman's fiction is completely committed to the project of articulating the complex inner voices of the under-voiced and disregarded.

"By this light, Kieron Smith, boy is his masterpiece: the social convulsions of post-war Glasgow refracted through the resilient, inventive, tireless consciousness of a scheme boy. A stunning and moving achievement.'

Fellow judge Lilias Fraser added: "Kieron Smith's devastating story, and the art of its telling, are truly the performance of a lifetime."

More than 100 titles by Scottish or Scottish-based authors were judged.

Jim Tough, SAC chief executive, said: "The Scottish Arts Council is committed to supporting artists and increasing participation in the arts.

"The Book Awards are not only a celebration of the best contemporary Scottish literary talent they are also a celebration of reading especially as it is being held again at the Borders Book Festival, one of a growing number of exciting book festivals across the country."

Culture Minister Michael Russell: "James Kelman is one of Scotland's most influential writers and a worthy winner of Book of the Year 2009."

"All of this year's winners are a credit to our nation and demonstrate the strength of the creative talent that exists across all genres of Scottish literature."

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