The new £1,500 prize celebrates the best recent literary essay by a writer in or from Scotland and rewards precise writing, original thinking, curiosity and creative approaches to non-fiction.
It has been created in memory of Anne Brown (1942-2021), former chairwoman of Wigtown Book Festival, who was also a much-loved senior BBC Radio producer – generously supported by her children, Jo and Richard.
The shortlist brings together an array of established and emerging talents from the worlds of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism.
Subjects addressed range from parental loss and racial violence, to climate change, family secrets and Covid.
Among the finalists is Patrick Laurie, who was born and brought up in Galloway and currently runs a hill farm near Dalbeattie, for his work ‘Peat’.
He studied Scottish Language and Literature at Glasgow University and now works as a freelance advisor on a range of wildlife conservation projects across the UK.
They other seven are: Polly Clark - Even After Everything; Dani Garavelli - The Bequest; Katie Goh - Oranges; Victoria Mackenzie - I Am a Plant; Sonali Misra – Dear Sonali; Jemma Neville - Away with the Birds; Chitra Ramaswamy – Three Meditations on Absence in Nature and Life.
The 2021 judges are: BBC broadcaster Sally Magnusson; Julie Danskin, editor of Extra Teeth magazine; Larissa MacFarquhar of The New Yorker; and Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, Senior Lecturer in Children’s Literature and Literacies at the University of Glasgow.
The winner will be announced at Wigtown Book Festival on Sunday at 4pm.
In addition to the cash award, the winner will also receive a specially created sculpture by award-winning artist Astrid Jaekel.
Adrian Turpin, artistic director of the festival, said : “Whittling down the entries has been exceptional ly difficult for the judges and has already seen some hard choices.
“We have been thrilled by the response to the prize which fills an important gap in Sco tland’s literary landscape.”