Alasdair Gray biographer Rodge Glass has been named the winner of a prestigious literary prize at Wigtown Book Festival.

The £1,500 Anne Brown Essay Prize for Scotland was established in 2021 by the family of the late BBC Scotland journalist and festival chair Anne Brown and celebrates the best literary essay by a Scottish writer.  

The Cheshire-born writer's essay On the Covenant explores his relationship with his Jewish family and the idea of what belonging and the ties of blood truly mean.  

Broadcaster and author Gavin Esler, chair of the judging panel, congratulated Glass and said: “Winning this prize is a huge achievement, it’s was such an incredible field. 

“The talent on display in this year’s shortlist was extraordinary.

"There were so many diverse voices talking about issues that mattered and in such different ways.” 

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The essay prize, which was this year run in association with The Herald, was awarded today at a special event at Wigtown Book Festival. 

Accepting the award Glass, a novelist, biographer and senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Strathclyde, said: “I know people always say they didn’t expect to win an award, but I absolutely didn’t.

The Herald:

"I know so many of the names on the shortlist and their work is fabulous, so this is a wonderful surprise.” 

The judges, who included journalist Vicky Allen and Wigtown Festival Company artistic director Adrian Turpin, also commended two of the other 120 entries. 

Victoria McNulty’s An Absence Tells the Story, which reflects on the personal and societal consequences of Irish emigration to Scotland and A Seed by translator and short-story writer Paul McQuade, which draws parallels between ecology and minority languages. 

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Mr Turpin said: “This is a truly significant prize for Scotland, one that celebrates ideas and excellence in writing and which also gives opportunities, encouragement and aims to develop potential. 

“Essays are important, they are the canaries in the coalmine of culture, they matter, they tell us where society is at this moment. 

“That was demonstrated not just in Rodge’s winning entry, which is a wonderful piece of writing, but in so many of the others. 

“Paul’s essay was highly distinctive, drawing intricate and fascinating parallels between the winnowing of the world’s minority languages and the damage we are doing to the environment

“What we loved about the essay by Victoria is her sheer talent and it was such an imaginative take on a quite familiar issue – we need new stories and new ways of telling stories.”