Michel Faber wins Saltire Book of the Year

27th November 2015

Michel Faber has won the 2015 Saltire Book of the Year award for The Book of Strange New Things (Canongate).

Faber was selected from six book category winners of the Saltire Society Literary Awards, the strength of which was described as “testament to the quality and scope of Scotland’s rich literary scene”, featuring writers such as Fiona Rintoul, Peter Geoghegan and Helen McClory.

Faber came top of the Saltire Scottish Fiction Book of the Year category to win the overall award, fending off competition from a shortlist that included the latest works from 1995 Whitbread award winner Kate Atkinson, Julian Assange’s ghost writer Andrew O’Hagan, a previous Saltire Book of Year winner Janice Galloway, Gaelic language writer Norma Nicleoid and Edinburgh writer Irvine Welsh.

He collected both awards and an accompanying cash prize of £8,000 at a special ceremony at the Central Hall in Edinburgh this evening (26th November 2014).

A Dutch-born, Scotland-based writer, who was brought up in Australia, Faber is a past winner of the Saltire First Book of the Year award for his 2000 debut novel Under the Skin (Canongate), which was later adapted into the 2013 feature film starring Scarlett Johansson.

Published by Canongate in October 2014, The Book of Strange New Things imagines a not-so-distant future where a global corporation is able to colonise a planet in a neighbouring galaxy. Its protagonist, Peter, is a Christian pastor sent to carry out missionary work amongst the native aliens on the planet – a situation he becomes increasingly uneasy about, alienating him from his wife as the story progresses. It is described as “a powerful examination of humanity and how a failure to communicate can gradually erode marital intimacy”.

Faber said: “When I emigrated from Australia to a remote part of Scotland in 1993, I never expected that it would be the beginning rather than the end of my literary career. I’m so moved and grateful that this honour has been bestowed on my work. You’ve made an alien feel very welcome.”

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