Longlist of 12 announced for Walter Scott book prize

Twelve novelists have been longlisted for a £25,000 award named after a famous writer.

The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction judges will narrow the 12 down to a shortlist in May.

The winner will then be announced in mid-June at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a novelist, historian, poet and playwright.

The longlisted books have all been written in English and were first published in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth last year.

The majority of the books are set at least 60 years ago, a nod to Sir Walter’s most famous work, Waverley, or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since.

The prize is managed by the Abbotsford Trust.

The novels on the longlist are The New Life by Tom Crewe; A Better Place by Stephen Daisley; Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein; For Thy Great Pain, Have Mercy On My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie; Music In The Dark by Sallay Magnusson; Cuddy by Benjamin Myers; My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor; The Fraud by Zadie Smith; Mister Timeless Blyth by Alan Spence; The House Of Doors by Tan Twan Eng; In The Upper Country by Kai Thomas; and Absolutely And Forever by Rose Tremain.

A draft of the will of Sir Walter Scott from 1831 (Andrew Milligan/PA)
A draft of the will of Sir Walter Scott from 1831 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Chairwoman of the judges Katie Grant said: “This year’s longlist sweeps us from one end of the world to the other, and from the Dark Ages to the 20th century – almost a millennium-and-a-half.

“Along the way we hear tales of 15th-century Norwich and of the Highland Clearances of the 1800s; of the secret railroad through the Americas during the mid-19th century, and of forbidden love in London at the turn of the 20th; from tropical Jamaica to Japan and Korea in the late 1800s, and to sultry Penang as the 20th century dawns; onwards to Trinidad, to Rome, to Crete and to New Zealand during the Second World War years; and to London and Paris in the swinging 1960s when anything seems possible.

“From the epic to the intimate, from the philosophical to the swashbuckling, from the traditional to the experimental, in each book emotions run deep.

“If you read the whole list, just like the panel of judges, you’ll never be short of conversation.”

The award was first introduced in 2010, and this year all shortlisted novelists will receive £1,500.

Richard Scott, founder of the Walter Scott Prize and patron of the Abbotsford Trust, said: “For some time it was the dream of my late wife and myself that the Walter Scott Prize should take root in the great writer’s own home and creation at Abbotsford.

“Now that the prize, 15 years on, is firmly established in the literary calendar, I am utterly delighted that this is being realised and am deeply grateful to the Abbotsford trustees for taking over the baton and to Hawthornden Foundation for making it possible.”