Blame game begins as Dundee Book Prize cancelled

© DC Thomson
Dundee International Book Prize 2016 winner Jessica Thummel.

This year’s Dundee International Book Prize has been cancelled.

Organisers have been forced to pull the plug, saying they could not guarantee the winning entrant’s book would be published.

In a joint statement, Dundee University and Dundee City Council – who together fund the prize – said after conversations with “various partners”, an agreement could not be guaranteed.

Glasgow-based publisher Freight Books was announced in January as one of the event partners but a spokesman for the company said it had “absolutely” no working agreement to publish this year’s winning book “whatsoever”.

The spokesman said: “We were obliged to print last year’s winning book, which we did.

“We have had no involvement at all with this year’s competition.We promised to print last year’s book and we did. The cancelation of the book prize is nothing to do with us. I am not a publisher and there was no appetite to continue doing that.

“We had nothing to do with it. We had an involvement with the last two years’ competition but we had absolutely no agreement with Dundee City Council or Dundee University or the Dundee International Book Prize to publish this year’s winning book.

Reports had suggested an upcoming court case between Freight Books and at least 40 authors had caused a break-down between the publisher and the Dundee International Book Prize. Freight Books deny this.

A statement on the Dundee International Book Prize website, signed by Dundee City Council and Dundee University, said : “Without being in a position to guarantee publication of the winning title – which we feel to be a very key component of the prize – with much regret, we feel that the prize is unable to proceed this year.

“The delay has been occasioned by necessary conversations with the various partners involved about how best to proceed.

“We have been working very hard to find a satisfactory solution to this, and one that would support the winning author and title, hence an ever-growing delay in the competition timeline and communications from us, for which we can only apologise, but ultimately it has not been possible.”

Jessica Thummel’s The Margins 
was announced as the winner of last year’s competition, which was published by Freight Books.

Ms Thummel also won £5,000 and a weeks protected writing time in Dundee.

Entries for the Dundee International Book Prize 2017 opened in January of this year but a shortlist was never finalised.

The competition has been a staple of the Dundee literary calendar for more than a decade.

It is understood that the future of the competition is currently under review.