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Lesley McDowell, one of five judges for the prestigious Saltire Scottish fiction book of the year, resigned over its choice of winner and claims of gender bias against author Lucy Ellmann.
McDowell claimed her fellow judges had not read all of the books and selected a book by a male author about a woman over three books by women about women. The Scottish fiction book of the year went to Ewan Morrison for his novel “Nina X” but judge Lesley McDowell had pushed for Lucy Ellmann’s Booker-shortlisted “Ducks, Newburyport” – which took the Goldsmiths prize last month
According to McDowell, two of the three judges against Ellmann winning admitted they hadn’t finished the 1,000-page novel – a statement that has been strongly contested by the Saltire Society. Eventually, Morrison’s novel was chosen by a vote of three to two.
Sarah Mason, on behalf of the prize, said the Saltire Society and the fiction award judges reaffirm that all submitted texts were examined carefully.
The judges were selected based on their expertise, knowledge and integrity and stand by their decision to award the prize to “Nina X”, she added.
Although only one panel member is a Gaelic speaker, all Gaelic books are put to further scrutiny by an independent panel and fully evaluated, said Mason.