Saturday, September 12, 2015

Craig Russell wins Scottish Crime Novel of the Year

Tonight I had the pleasure of catching up with Craig Russell at Bloody Scotland. Craig and I have shared a great hour-plus phone interview years ago, for a Weekend Herald feature, and had stayed in social media touch. But this was our in-person meeting.

A couple of hours after this photo was taken, it was announced that Craig's book THE GHOSTS OF ALTONA had won the fourth annual Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The award was presented to the Craig at a formal dinner at the Bloody Scotland by chairman of the judges Magnus Linklater and Peter May, author of the 2014 winning book.

Craig Russell said:

"It goes without saying that I am absolutely delighted that The Ghosts of Altona has won the Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the Year. I was very happy simply to have been shortlisted for the second time—which I took as a sign that I must be doing something right! The fact that the Bloody Scotland award is founded on the recommendations of readers themselves makes it a very special, very significant accolade—and to win out of a shortlist like this year’s, which included some of the finest crime writers in Scotland, is a huge, huge honour.

I think it’s significant that a novel so clearly not set in Scotland can win the Bloody Scotland award. One of the greatest things for me in my career has been the success my novels have had abroad—the third Fabel film will be screened on ARD1, Germany’s equivalent of BBC1, exactly one week after the award—and you could argue that The Ghosts of Altona is as un-Scottish as you can get, but I actually believe that there is no more Scottish a trait than to look out into the world, to have an interest in others like us, and unlike us."

Journalist Magnus Linklater issued this statement on behalf of the panel of judges:

"Despite an exceptionally strong shortlist, the judges’ decision was unanimous this year – we were all very impressed with The Ghosts of Altona. Craig Russell is a fine writer and we loved the complex, dark and unpredictable story. The quality of the writing was so strong there was a feeling that this book would stand up against any other literary prize-winning title, with its well-woven plots and sub-plots, thoughtful exploration of the nature of trauma and interesting uses of symbolism. The Ghosts of Altona, written by a Scot, but truly capturing the spirit of a city like Hamburg at different times throughout history, is a great example of Scottish writing’s international spirit."

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