Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Bloody Scotland winner: Willie would be proud of the talent that has won award that bears his name

© PAHyde by Craig Russell is the winner of this year's McIlvanney Prize
Hyde by Craig Russell is the winner of this year's McIlvanney Prize

Craig Russell is the 2021 McIlvanney Award winner. He will be at the Bloody Scotland Festival today.

I am still in shock. I have just been awarded the 2021 McIlvanney Award at this year’s Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling. I’ve won it before, in 2015 – although it was called the Scottish Crime Book of the year back then – and I’ve been shortlisted twice more.

This year’s win makes me the first author to have won the award twice, something I’m still trying to get my head around. For all of these reasons, it is an award that has great meaning for me. So what exactly is that meaning?

A nation’s sense of itself takes different shapes, it changes all the time. It evolves. A key part of that sense of self is expressed not only in the art, the music and the literature it creates, but the art, music, and literature it celebrates.

When I won the McIlvanney in 2015, it was for a novel set in Hamburg, populated entirely by German characters. At the time of winning, the judges said: “The Ghosts of Altona, written by a Scot, but truly capturing the spirit of a city like Hamburg at different times throughout history, is a great example of Scottish writing’s international spirit.”

And that meant a great deal to me. In fact, I cannot think of a greater compliment. It is my firm belief that internationalism and openness are defining qualities of the modern Scot – something which stands out in stark contrast to much of what is happening around us.

I also think that Scottishness is a cloth that is cut in a great variety of weights, and that, too, is a positive and progressive thing.

So winning the McIlvanney was, for me, validation of my belief in a broad, internationalist worldview – seeing ourselves in context.

My winning book this time around, however, could not be more Scottish: Hyde is set in Victorian Edinburgh and woven through with Celtic myth and legend, and with a protagonist who embodies the dichotomy of being Scottish and British at the height of Empire – part of the Caledonian antisyzygy that inspired RL Stevenson to write Jekyll and Hyde.

That, more than anything, is what defines the McIlvanney for me: that it is open to the broadest spectrum of fiction, and it embraces the widest possible range of authors and novels.

The fact that I have had a police procedural set in contemporary Germany, two classic-noir novels set in 1950s Glasgow, and a dark Gothic novel set in 19th Century Edinburgh all making the shortlist throughout the years is evidence of that.

All you have to do is to look at this year’s shortlisted authors and novels to see further proof of that diversity.

As a writer, I have written more than crime fiction, and the fiction I write that falls into that category often strains a little at the edges of the genre.

And that, too, is another reason I value the McIlvanney prize: it recognises that there is a spectrum of interpretation of the genre, just as there is a spectrum of definitions of Scottishness.

William McIlvanney, after whom the prize is now named, was someone whose writing was influenced by so many influences, from Albert Camus to Raymond Chandler (who coincidentally happen to be big influences on my work).

I think Willie would be proud to see the wealth and breadth of Scottish talent recognised by the award that bears his name.

That there is a literary prize that is so prestigious, yet so inclusive, could not be a better tribute to contemporary Scottish writing.