The renowned Scottish poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie has been awarded the 2014 Orion Book Award in the nonfiction category for her book of essays Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World. The Orion Book Award comes exactly one month after Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines received the John Burroughs Association’s annual medal for most distinguished book of nature writing at an awards ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History at which Jamie was the keynote speaker. Sightlines previously garnered the Dolman Travel Book of the Year for 2013.
Each spring, the Orion Book Award is presented to books that deepen the reader’s connection to the natural world and represent excellence in writing. The award has been conferred annually since 2007.
This year marks the first time that the award is being given for works of both fiction and nonfiction. The selection committee was made up of the Orion magazine staff, and over 250 books published in 2013 were considered. The winner in the fiction category is MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood.
“Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines dissects the natural world with precision, humor, and love. The essays in this book not only inspire us to look more closely, but also have the power to open us up to a new kind of emotional experience of the planet,” say the magazine’s editors.
Sightlines offers a landmark work about the natural world and our relationship to it. In extraordinarily precise language Jamie explores her native Scottish surroundings, intermingling personal history with observations of the landscape. Her travels lead her to studying whalebones in Norwegian museums, exploring remote Scottish islands, and watching icebergs in the Arctic. Sightlines invites us to take a moment to pause and reconsider all that nature gives us.
Kathleen Jamie is one of the UK’s foremost poets, the award-winning author of several books of poetry, including The Overhaul, which won the Costa Book Award for Poetry (previously called the Whitbread) in 2013, and two previous nonfiction titles, and, according to John Berger, “a sorceress of the essay form.” She is the Chair of Poetry at the University of Stirling and lives with her family in Fife, Scotland. The New York Times included Jamie among a group of writers that have made “British natural history writing soar” and her poetry has been published in a wide variety of publications, including The New Yorker.
To learn more about the Orion Book Award and to see the full list of the 2014 finalist books, visit www.orionmagazine.org.