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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig researcher wins prestigious national prize with his first novel

Tha awards ceremony was held in Glasgow on Thursday night (14 November) and Tim was named joint winner alongside Eunice Buchanan with her collection of short stories, As Far As I Can See.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “The Gaelic world is indeed fortunate that individuals as talented as Tim have been drawn to our language and culture and are now enriching both in such highly effective ways as through his research activities as part of the Soillse project and through his skills as a writer, which have now been recognised at a national level. We, at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, are delighted that he has received this award.”

Tim Armstrong’s novel is an elaboration on his short story, ‘Luathas-teichidh’, from the Ùr Sgeul collection, Saorsa (Freedom), published by CLÀR in 2011. The book combines elements of dark cyberpunk and political space-opera into the first hard science fiction novel in Gaelic for adults.

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Tim said: “I believe that science fiction is critical for the Gaelic revival. Technology is changing the world and rapidly changing the human species itself. Science fiction is where this new world is explored and debated and Gaelic literature needs to be involved in that discussion.”

In addition to Tim’s novel, another Gaelic author was recognised on the Saltire Society shortlists with Duncan Gillies’ book Màiri Dhall agus Sgeulachdan Eile (Blind Mary and Other Stories) being nominated for Scottish Book of the Year. The nomination is a testament to the success of the Ur-Sgeul series over the last 10 years, organised by John Storey of the Gaelic Books Council. Acclaimed poet John Burnside’s collection, Something Like Happy, was named Scottish Book of the Year.

The two books make it eight CLÀR titles on Saltire Literary Award short-lists over the last ten years, and reflect the recent success and quality of Gaelic fiction.

Lisa Storey from publisher CLÀR commented: “CLÀR are delighted that Tim’s excellent novel has received the recognition it deserves at the Saltire Awards. It is vital that Gaelic engages with genres such as science fiction as well as more traditional themes. It was also very pleasing that Duncan Gillies – whose work is full of the rich and varied language and idioms of Ness on Lewis – featured among those authors who were shortlisted for an award.”

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