The inaugural Dundee Book Prize goes to the novel "Tumulus", written by Andrew Murray Scott.
The 44-year-old freelance writer and Dundee College lecturer receives a £6000 cash prize and can expect publication of his winning text by Scottish publishing house Polygon.
Tumulus tells the story of bohemian Dundee through the 1960s and 70s to the present day, blending fact, myth, pub tales and autobiographical account. It contains much that is actual, including hundreds of Dundonians..from many epochs ..alive, dead, famous, notorious and imagined.
The novel is woven around a manuscript discovered in mysterious circumstances from a Craigiebank attic. This autobiographical record of a Dundee artist called Gerry is investigated in 1999 by Council Archivist Stelia Auld.
Eventually, the most basic facts of Gerry's manuscript and Stelia's life are undermined by alternative versions, leading to a suspense filled conclusion.
The Dundee Book Prize judges considered Tumulus to be "the work of an extremely talented, confident, sophisticated and imaginative writer.
"It reveals a great knowledge and love of Dundee while paying the city the compliment of being intelligently amused by various aspects of its life and outlook.
"It is fed by a knowledge of much other writing from Scotland elsewhere.
"It comments wittily on the whole exercise of Dundee's self-promotion and manages to combine a number of different kinds of fiction."
Andrew Murray Scott lives in Dundee where he works as a lecturer in Professional Writing at Dundee College.
He is a graduate of the University of Dundee and has several previous works in print.
These include "The Making of the Monster", a biography of Alexander Troccchi. "Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds . A Trocchi Reader" "Grahame of Claverhouse, a biography"., "Britain's Secret War", a work on tartan terrorism published in 1990. "Discovering Dundee, The Story of a City", published in 1989.
Scott also devised and wrote the script for a video documentary "The Story of Dundee" in 1996.
He said .. "The Dundee Book Prize inspired me. I was greatly enthused, for Dundee's sake - It's an imaginative and bold move - and for mine since I knew I would enjoy writing for it.
"I had just graduated from Dundee University and my head was still fizzing with concepts, post-modernism and other literary theories and my thesis on Alasdair Gray.
"I was raring to get back into writing seriously after four years of essays. I searched among the piles of unpublished novels in my cupboard to see if I had anything suitable 'off the peg' and ended up borrowing about six pages from a novel I wrote in the 1970s. I had lots of notes about Dundee's urban myths of the 60s and my own memories of bohemian Dundee in the 70s and had long been looking for an excuse to use these obliquely as material but not as autobiography. I wanted my entry to be up-to-date and not inured in any lost epoch and I wanted it to reflect upon these times and not be subsumed by them.
"I wanted Dundonians to be able to conceive of their city in the round, through all the ages, and feel proud.
" I will probably have a wee malt just to get over the shock of winning. Or six."
Scott - who hopes to establish himself as a specific Dundonian voice in the contemporary Scottish literary scene - is currently at work on a new title "The Literary Life of Dundee" and is also planning a sequel to Tumulus.
Highly Commended by the Dundee Book Prize judges is the novel "Beneath the Law", by Stewart Hutchison.
The 52-year-old marketing communications consultant receives a cash prize of £2000 and can also expect publication of his manuscript by Polygon.
"Beneath the Law" tells the story of lawyer Gilbert Dow and artist Forbes Wedderburn, tracing their long rivalry and looking back over the last century of life in Dundee to a time when the city was sustained by the linen trade and the whale and seal fishery.
The Book Prize judges considered the work to be "a very close runner-up."
"In some ways it is even more unexpected - an amusing, off-beat historical novel.
"Both novels are extremely stylishly written. Their lively writing is a major part of their appeal."
Stewart Hutchison lives in South Queensferry where he is self-employed as a marketing consultant.
He was joint winner of the Chambers Prize for Fiction in 1979 and was shortlisted for the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Prize in 1993.
He said.. "l thought I knew Dundee fairly well. I visited it regularly as a student and latterly on business from time to time.
"I also have some Dundee ancestors. However as I researched my book I was amazed by the great diversity in the city 100 years ago.
"I'm sure this energy and diversity is reflected in the face Dundee presents to the world today."
Notes to Editors.
The Dundee Book Prize was launched in December 1996. A joint venture by the City of Discovery Campaign and the University of Dundee, it offers £6000 and the prospect of publication to the author of the best unpublished novel set in the City of Dundee.
Over 500 requests for entry forms were received by the organisers. A total of 82 manuscripts were submitted by the closing date for entries of May 31 1998.
The prize was judged by poet and playwright, Liz Lochhead, editorial director of Polygon, Marion Sinclair, and senior lecturer in English at the University of Dundee, Dr David Robb.
The judges commented : "Apart from the winners, there were around a dozen other novels which we were particularly struck by.
"We would hope that one way or another many of these entries will eventually find their way into print.
"The Dundee Book Prize has been very worthwhile because it has produced such interesting and valuable results.
"It has been not only an imaginative marketing exercise but, even more importantly, a very generous and bold act of literary patronage."
Issued by Beattie Media
On behalf of the City of Discovery Campaign
For more information, contact
Claire Grainger on 01382 598401 or mobile 07887 650072
Niall Scott on 01382 598408 or mobile 0411 223062.
Issued by Beattie Media