TALES of birth, death, song and sickness have been shortlisted for this year's Saltire Literary Awards.

Works by makar Jackie Kay, forensic specialist Professor Sue Black and director Mark Cousins are amongst those shortlisted for the annual writing prizes, which celebrate fiction, poetry and non-fiction.

Newsreader Sally Magnusson is nominated in the fiction book of the year category for The Sealwoman's Gift, about an Icelandic woman taken into slavery by pirates in the 1600s.

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Competition comes from Irvine Welsh for Dead Men's Trousers, which includes characters from Trainspotting, and Helen Sedgwick for The Growing Season, about a woman who takes on the biotech firm that aided her birth.

Meanwhile, National columnist Calum MacLeoid is in the running for the first book of the year award –previously won by Louise Welsh and AL Kennedy – for Gaelic language thriller A'Togail an t-Srubain.

Kay's new poetry collection Bantam has also been shortlisted alongside The Long Take by Robin Robertson, which follows a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder in post-war America, and Wristwatch by Jay Whittaker, which charts a course through cancer treatment and recovery.

The National:

Irvine Welsh has been shortlisted for Dead Men's Trousers

And Cousins made the non-fiction list for The Story of Looking, which takes on our experience of art, photography, cinema and propaganda, while fellow nominee Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh, is nominated for Waiting for the Last Bus, which includes "a positive, meditative and profound exploration of the many important lessons we can learn from death".

Essays on early cinema, poems about music and musicians and a memoir of Murial Spark also impressed judges, while Black is nominated for All That Remains: A Life in Death, about her forensic anthropology career and the science behind it.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Edinburgh on November 30.

Sarah Mason, programme director at Saltire Society, said: “Spanning poetry, fiction, non-fiction and academic research, once again the Saltire Literary Awards shortlists celebrate the diversity, quality and richness of books to come from Scotland over the past year.

"The Saltire Literary Awards have a proud history of celebrating and bringing wider attention to excellence in all literary forms and we would like to congratulate the writers and publishers who have been shortlisted this year. All of them have produced works that are testament to the wealth of talent in Scotland’s literary scene today and I wish them the very best of luck when the winners are announced in November.”

Mairi Kidd, of Creative Scotland, commented: “Past winners of the various Saltire Literary Awards include many of the best-loved names in literature today.

"The 2018 shortlists again demonstrate the wealth of established writing talent here in Scotland and the Saltire Society’s ongoing commitment to uncovering the major voices of the future.”