Atkinson, Harris and Boyd compete on Walter Scott longlist

Atkinson, Harris and Boyd compete on Walter Scott longlist

Authors including Kate Atkinson, William Boyd and Robert Harris are battling it out to win the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

In all 13 authors are competing on the “illuminating” and “entertaining” longlist to win the prize, which is awarded to new fiction set in the past.

Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins (Black Swan) is up against William Boyd’s Sweet Caress (Bloomsbury), A Petrol Scented Spring by Ajay Close (Sandstone Press), A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale (Tinder Press) and Dictator by Robert Harris (Hutchinson). The remaining titles tussling for the top prize are Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt (Scribner UK), Death and Mr Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis (Jonathan Cape), Mrs Engles by Gavin McCrea (Scribe Publications), End Games in Bordeaux by Allan Massie (Quartet Books), Tightrope by Simon Mawer (Abacus), Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss (Granta), Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn (Vintage) and Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar (Pan Macmillan Australia).  

The chair of Judges, Alistair Moffat, said the year 2015 saw both a “flowering and broadening of the historical fiction genre”, which he said was the “backbone” of the Walter Scott Prize.  

“The 13 books that make up our longlist are the most illuminating, entertaining, and sweeping of those submissions that fitted our rules on timespan,” he said. “The judges and readers who collate the longlist had to make difficult decisions, and also had to ask pertinent questions about the nature of fiction that flows between the past and the present.”

He added: “Walter Scott was the first in a long line of authors who have transformed history into stories that transport the reader straight into the epicentre of another time and place, where characters live and feel, and are pounded by forces beyond themselves.  We believe that this is the central strength of the books that make up our 2016 longlist, and we salute the authors that make this great literary genre thrive and move forward.”

Two new judges - Jackie Kay and James Naughtie - have also joined the judging board.

The prize shortlist will be announced in March, with the winner revealed at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose in Scotland on 18th June 2016.