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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig researcher’s first book nominated for Saltire Society Award

A Gaelic novel written by a researcher at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has made the shortlist for the Scottish First Book of the Year at the Saltire Society Literary Awards. Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach (On a Glittering Black Sea) by Tim Armstrong is published by CLÀR, agus is the first science fiction novel in Gaelic for adults.

The prize is for the first book by a new author, and Tim is the only Gaelic author to make the list. Also on the shortlist are: Malcolm Mackay with The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, Eunice Buchanan with As Far As I Can See, Vicky Jarrett with Nothing is Heavy and Kellan Macinnes with Caleb’s List.

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. Tim is originally from Seattle, in the United States, and is a researcher at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture. His new book combines elements of dark cyberpunk and political space-opera into the first hard science fiction novel in Gaelic for adults.

Commenting on his nomination, Tim said: “It is a testament to the great work that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig does for Gaelic that there are many authors – some who grew up with the language and others like me who learned the language as an adult – who came to the College and who are now successfully writing and publishing in Gaelic.”

In addition to Tim’s novel, another Gaelic author has been 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.

The two books make it eight CLÀR titles on Saltire Literary Award short-lists over the last ten years, and reflect new developments in Gaelic fiction.

Lisa Storey of publisher CLÀR said: “This is not just about the publisher, but about the strength of contemporary Gaelic fiction. We’re delighted that these talented writers are getting such well-deserved recognition.”

The prizes will be presented at a ceremony in Glasgow’s Mitchell Library on 14 November.

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