IRVINE Welsh, Janice Galloway, Kate Atkinson and Michel Faber are among the contenders for Scotland's most prestigious literary awards this year.

The expanded Saltire Literary Awards will for the first time giving recognition to fiction and non-fiction authors in separate categories.

The new prizes were created for the Awards in place of last year's Literary Book of the Year, due to what the plethora of titles eligible for submission.

The “hotly contested” shortlist for the new Fiction Book of the Year award includes A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh, Jellyfish by former Saltire Scottish Book of the Year winner Janice Galloway and the latest novel from Whitbread-award winning writer Kate Atkinson, God in Ruins.

Also nominated is The Book of Strange New Things, the most recent book from Michael Faber, who won the Saltire First Book Award in 1999, as well as the Gaelic language novel An Dosan by Norma Nicleoid and The Illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan.

In the six award categories, non-fiction books up for honours included an analysis of the life of 16th century preacher John Knox, a biography of celebrated poet TS Eliot, an examination of the work of Scottish singer and folklorist Hamish Henderson and a study of Sir William Watson, one of Britain’s medical bacteriologists.

The new Non-Fiction Book of the Year shortlist consists of Young Eliot by Robert Crawford, Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis, Lifeblood by Gill Fyffe and This is Scotland by historian Daniel Gray and photographer Alan McCredie.

And the First Book of the Year Award category is particularly varied with entries including journalist Peter Geoghegan’s record of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, poetry from Audrey Henderson, short story and essay collections from Helen McClory and Malachy Tallack. Completing the shortlist are traditional novels Fiona Rintoul's The Leipzig Affair, recently serialised for BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime and Michael F Russell dystopian post-apocalyptic vision of Scotland, Lie of the Land.

The Saltire Literary Awards are organised by the Saltire Society, a non-political independent charity founded in 1936.

The shortlists, announced last month, cover history, poetry, research, literature and first book, with each award is worth a £2,000 prize.

The winners of six categories will go on to compete for the overall Saltire Scottish Book of the Year title.

The winners of all six award categories will be formally announced at a special ceremony in Edinburgh on November 26 along with the winner of the Saltire Publisher of the Year award.

Saltire Society executive director Jim Tough said: “The Saltire Literary Awards continue to go from strength to strength with the number of book award categories increasing from five to six this year.

“Spanning science and academia alongside biography, creative poetry and prose, the sheer scale and variety of writing talent on display here is truly inspiring. In terms of showcasing today’s Scottish literary output in its many varied forms, I think this year’s shortlists have to be the broadest and most comprehensive yet.

I know the judges will find it very difficult to decide who should emerge as the overall winner.”