Bloody Scotland explains lack of diversity among prize nominees

Bloody Scotland has defended criticism that the organisation lacks diversity, after it was revealed that all of the authors longlisted for its annual McIlvanney Prize are white, The National reports.

According to the report, stating that they “understand the frustrations”, a spokesperson from the crime writing festival said: “Of the 82 entries submitted by 34 publishers this year, only two were by people of colour, one of whom has made the Debut Prize shortlist.

“There is undoubtedly a lack of Scottish crime writers of colour. This is a problem which is industry-wide and affects far more than just one festival and one literary prize.”

The prize, which has run since 2015 under various iterations, is awarded annually by Bloody Scotland to the best Scottish crime book of the year.

Highlands author Helen Sedgwick raised concerns over the current and past longlists, after data showed that in the past four years, when the prize has existed under the current McIlvanney Prize title, just under half (46%) of all longlisted titles were written by a pool of 10 writers. Of these 10 writers, 70% are men, and 100% are white.

Sedgwick said this data points toward a larger issue of a “closed community” within the Scottish literary scene, and that in her view, certain elements of the prize perpetuate this, such as the “narrow and complicated” entry criteria, and the “opaque” internal processes within the prize selection itself.

One of the prize’s criteria reads: “For the purposes of both prizes, a crime book is eligible if the author was born or raised in Scotland. If the author was not born or raised in Scotland, the book will still be deemed eligible if the author lives in Scotland and has done so for at least six years, AND the book submitted for the award is substantially set in Scotland.”


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