Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Dundee set to launch another novelist’s career

Post Thumbnail


This is the biggest week of the year for local lovers of literature as Dundee Literary Festival swings into action and the Dundee International Book Prize winner is announced.


Think of the leading literary hotspots and metropolitan London or trendy Edinburgh springs to mind. Perhaps the pastoral inspiration of the Lake District. Or the bleak and rugged landscape of the Highlands.

Yet Dundee can lay claim to having inspired more new writers than anywhere else in the UK. The city hosts the biggest book prize in the UK for unpublished novelists.

The Dundee International Book Prize includes a £5,000 cash award, publishing deal, and a week of protected writing time. Its backers are Dundee University, Freight Publishing and Dundee City Council.

Peggy Hughes (32) is the head of Literary Dundee – the offshoot of Dundee University that organises Dundee Literary Festival and the Dundee International Book Prize. She spends most of the year sourcing and booking writers from all over the UK and beyond, arranging venues, cajoling people into being judges and readers, publicising the event and generally getting up to her oxters in Dundee’s artistic community.

“Festival programmers are like magpies,” she says. “You’re always on the lookout for something shiny, picking up things here and there.

“I spend a lot of time going to other book festivals – I chaired 15 events at the Wigtown Book Festival recently, so many that strangers were recognising me on the street.”

This year’s book prize judges were Shereen Nanjiani, Ian McMillan, Hannah McGill and publisher Adrian Searle.

There’s an all-female shortlist for this year’s prize. The Margins by Jessica Thummel, Shadow Jumping by Margaret Ries and London Clay by Amy Spencer are the final three in the running.

The winner will be announced at a dinner in the Apex Hotel on Thursday night and their novel will be published early in the new year.

Out of the 11 writers who have previously won the prize, Jacob Appel has arguably gone on to enjoy the greatest success.

The New Yorker – a bioethicist, psychiatrist and lawyer with no less than seven masters degrees – won the 2012 prize for his debut novel The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up.

He said: “The Dundee Prize was one of the major turning points in my literary life.  Up until that time, I’d written and published short fiction – literally over two hundred stories – but nobody was willing to publish a full-length collection.

Nor did any editors appear interested in the various novel manuscripts that I had piled on my shelves, under my bed, and even in the trunk of my car.  In fact, my previous agent had sent the novel that ultimately won the prize, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, to numerous American publishers, and while a number enjoyed the book, all believed it was ‘unmarketable’ for various reasons.

“So I was bogged down in my own slough of literary despond when the phone call came from Scotland.  I was so surprised at first – I’m still uncertain who actually entered my manuscript in the competition, as I have no memory or record of doing so myself – that I feared it might prove a practical joke.

“Fortunately, it was not.  And on the heels of winning the prize, I’ve published another nine books over the past four years, with an additional five titles under contract.  But it was the Dundee Prize that made all the difference.  I cannot adequately express the joy I felt at holding the published book in my hands for the first time, or the look on my grandmother’s face when she realized I wasn’t frittering my life away.

“In short, I am extremely grateful to the people of Dundee for both their generosity and extremely good literary taste.  I should also emphasize how much I enjoyed meeting Dundee’s literary community when I visited; rarely if ever have I encountered such warm and welcoming souls.”

Even just coming close to winning the Dundee International Book Prize can be enough to launch a literary career.

Neil Broadfoot was shortlisted for the award in 2013 for his novel Falling Fast. The 41-year old who lives in Dunfermline credits the exposure with securing a publishing deal.

“There’s no doubt being shortlisted launched my career as a writer,” the former Scotsman journalist said. “It got the attention of my publisher and I’ve just released the third book in the series.”

Falling Fast introduced investigative reporter Doug McGregor and his police contact and uneasy friend DS Susie Drummond as they hunted a convicted rapist. His work has been likened to Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.

It went on to be shortlisted for the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award (now the William McIlvanney Prize) and spawned two sequels.

Neil still works as a freelance communications consultant but says being able to earn part of his income from novels is a dream come true. “I have a wife, two children and four dogs so unfortunately I’m not yet able to throw it all in and write full time. Hopefully one day though.”