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For the first time the £2,500 prize, organised by the Authors’ Club and named after a club member, the Rev Dr William Dolman, had been split between two titles: Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie and The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane.
Presenting the award in London on the 24th September, the chairman of the judges, Barnaby Rogerson said the shortlist had been the strongest yet seen for the prize.
“But despite these wonderful offerings, all five judges found ourselves irresistibly drawn to a pair of books that seemed to shift outwards and extend the scope and boundary of modern travel writing,” he added.
Winner to be announced at Hatchard's Bookshop London on 24th September.
Congratulations to Kathleen Jamie, who has just won the Poetry Costa 2012 for The Overhaul, described by the Costa judges as ‘the collection that will convert you to poetry’. We wish it all luck for the Costa Book of the Year Award on 29th January. Kathleen publishes her non fiction with Sort Of – most recently her book Sightlines.
The first reviews are in for Kathleen Jamie’s new book, Sightlines – and they surpass even the enthusiasm for her previous book, Findings. Here is a selection: The Literary Review: Diana Athill “A profoundly satisfying book. It is not often that the prose of a poet is as powerful as her verse, but Jamie's is. There are people uninterested in books about remote places and wild creatures; but to the rest of us Sightlines will be a treasure.”
The Sunday Times: Helen Davies “Immensely beguiling . . . The richness of her observations creeps up on the reader. There are piquant descriptions that stop you in your tracks but the real power of the writing derives from the steady increment of detail and the honesty of her responses to the natural world.”
The Sunday Telegraph: Philip Hoare “Kathleen Jamie, the Scottish poet, has written a book that transcends the defitnition of nature study ... Sightlines is a work of intense purity and quiet genius and we’re lucky to have it.”
The Saturday Telegraph: Adam Nicholson “Written in a way that nature-and-travel books are rarely written; coming to moments of poetic precision and acuity, but always set in a frame of ordinariness; repeatedly able, as she says of herself, to relish “the sense of carefully revealing something authentic . . . The whole book is an experiment in honesty.”
The Scotsman: Stuart Kelly “Exquisite . . . There is such a precision, of both thinking and seeing, displayed in these works that you would have to be a very obtuse kind of reader not to realise that Jamie is a poet.”
Eve’s Alexandria (blog) What a wonderful writer she is, whether the subject is Artic tourism or gannet colonies or the special February light that heralds spring. I can't get enough of her reflective, poetic style; poetic but still muscular and toned, not whimsical at all. ”
“Sightlines is an act of seeing: not just of observation, of looking and noticing – though Jamie is an accomplished noticer – but of intellectual and imaginative seeing, of chasing down connections, teasing out similarities and slowly, patiently, allowing each subject to come into view. To call it ‘nature writing’ is to tell only part of the story; these are meditations on the world and our place in it: on what we’ve done, who we’ve been and where we can go from here.
In Findings and Sightlines Kathleen Jamie has carved out a niche that’s both deeply personal and broadly philosophical, in prose that seems to move naturally from sparse to lyrical and back. These essays ask the big questions quietly, and are all the more powerful for it.
The Guardian has selected Kathleen Jamie as their featured author for ‘My Life in Writing’ on Easter Saturday – and The Observer will be serialising her new book, Sightlines, the following day. She will also be appearing on Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour on April 11th. Sightlines has been selected by Waterstones as their ‘Book of the Month’ in Scotland.