Longlist announced for book award which celebrates north of England

Books which “best evoke the spirit of the north of England” are up for a £10,000 prize.

The Portico Prize for Literature celebrates new works of northern fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

This year’s longlist of 14 books explores themes of family, friendship, class, race, identity, masculinity, sexuality, the meaning of place and memories of the past.

(The Portico Library)
(The Portico Library)

Debut writers have made their mark this year, with five of the 10 fiction novels longlisted being debuts, and of the four non-fiction titles, three are debuts.

The Outsiders by James Corbett is among the debuting fiction novels, which is set against the backdrop of the Liverpool riots in the early 1980s.

Sairish Hussain’s The Family Tree about a multi-generational British Muslim family and The Khan by Saima Mir, a crime thriller with a female British Pakistani protagonist, are also debuts on the list.

Benjamin Myers is up for his third nomination with the only collection of short stories on the longlist, having been a joint winner in 2015 and shortlisted in 2019.

Myers’ collection, Male Tears, accumulates more than fifteen years of work tackling the nature of masculinity.

(The Portico Library)
(The Portico Library)

The non-fiction titles longlisted include I Belong Here by Manchester-born Anita Sethi, which was written after Sethi was racially abused on a train journey from Liverpool to Newcastle and blends nature writing, memoir and current affairs.

Katy Massey’s second book, Are We Home Yet?, is set between 1935 and 2010 and is based on a girl who discovers that her mother earns money as a sex worker.

The longlist was selected by the Portico Prize’s Society of Readers and Writers, an appointed group of 21 book lovers and literary enthusiasts with connections to the north of England.

The prize, which was established in 1985, aims to raise awareness of the north of England’s historical, cultural and literary heritage.

(The Portico Library)
(The Portico Library)

The shortlist of six books will be announced on December 7 and the winner is due to be revealed at a ceremony at The Portico Library in Manchester on January 20.

Lynne Allan, chair of The Portico Library, said: “The Society of Readers and Writers have excelled themselves with the diverse and exciting choices they have made.

“Both independent and larger publishers are represented and we are particularly pleased with the innovative mix of formats and genres including fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir and biography.

“New and exciting voices sit alongside established authors.

“Each one of the longlisted books has the power to engage and move the reader, whatever their background, and reflect the myriad rich experience of northern life.

“Our eminent panel of judges have a formidable task in front of them.”

– The 2022 longlist:

Ghosted by Jenn Ashworth – Fiction
The Outsiders by James Corbett – Fiction
The Blind Light by Stuart Evers – Fiction
Mrs England by Stacey Halls – Fiction
The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain – Fiction
Sea State by Tabitha Lasley – Non-fiction
Are We Home Yet? by Katy Massey – Non-fiction
The Khan by Saima Mir – Fiction
Toto Among the Murderers by Sally J. Morgan – Fiction
The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu – Fiction
Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan – Fiction
Male Tears by Benjamin Myers – Fiction (short story collection)
I Belong Here by Anita Sethi – Non-fiction
Ghost Town by Jeff Young – Non-fiction