Posted on December 10, 2019 at 10:30 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

The Nobel Prize isn’t the only book award causing a stir.

A judge for one of Scotland’s most prestigious book prizes resigned Monday, claiming that her colleagues didn’t actually read the entire fiction shortlist.

Lesley McDowell raised two concerns in particular.

The first: Of the three judges who voted against Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport, two admitted to McDowell that they hadn’t finished the novel.

(It should be noted that the Saltire Awards disputes this and all of McDowell’s criticism.)

The fiction award would ultimately go to Nina X by Ewan Morrison, which further rankled McDowell, who pointed out that rather than choose any of three novels about women and by women, the panel voted for a novel about a woman written by a man.

“That meant they were saying a man had written a woman better than these three,” she told the Guardian

McDowell’s second complaint: one of the shortlisted books is in Gaelic, while only one of the five fiction judges speaks Gaelic.

The Saltire Awards responded to this criticism by noting that four independent Gaelic-speaking judges read books in that language and were then represented by that single Gaelic-speaking fiction judge.

And a final, smaller issue that McDowell raised in her original statement to the Scotsman: she was told they couldn’t award a joint prize for fiction, yet later saw that other categories had joint winners. 

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Categories: Today in Books

Tagged As: Awards, Scandal, The Guardian

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