Costa Book award winners Sebastian Barry and Francis Spufford have been longlisted for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017.
Barry is longlisted for his novel Days Without End (Faber), which in January earned him his second Costa Book of the Year accolade. Spufford, whose Golden Hill (also Faber) won the Costa First Novel Award, is also in the running.
Meanwhile Sarah Perry is also longlisted for her 2016 Waterstones Book of the Year-winning title The Essex Serpent (Profile).
They are joined on the 13-strong longlist by Julian Barnes for The Noise of Time (Jonathan Cape) and Rose Tremain for The Gustav Sonata (Chatto & Windus).
Ed O’Loughlin also made the cut with Minds of Winter, published on Quercus' new "upmarket" imprint riverrun; Jo Baker for A Country Road, A Tree (Doubleday); Richard Francis for Crane Pond (Europa); Linda Grant for The Dark Circle (Virago); Charlotte Hobson for The Vanishing Futurist (Faber); Hannah Kent for The Good People (Picador Australia); Dominic Smith for The Last Painting of Sara de Vos (Allen & Unwin Australia); and Graham Swift for Mothering Sunday (Scribner).
Books on the 2017 longlist are set in England, Ireland, France, Holland, Switzerland, Russia and North America, and their historical settings range from the 17th to the 20th Centuries.
The judges called it "an extraordinary year" for the genre. The panel, comprising seven judges, Alistair Moffat, Elizabeth Buccleuch, Elizabeth Laird, Kate Figes, Katharine Grant, James Holloway and James Naughtie, said: “We were knocked out by the quality and variety of the entries this year, but we have finally arrived at a longlist of astonishing depth and richness. We look forward to the challenging task of narrowing such a great longlist down to a shortlist."
For the first time this year, the prize is publishing a further list of 20 books recommended by the Walter Scott Prize Academy - an advisory group feeding into the submission process, including the artistic directors of book festivals around the world, leading book retailers and literary critics - which was launched last year as a new innovation to help broaden the reach of the prize and strengthen its resources.
The 20 books recommended by the Academy, in addition to the longlist, include newly published historical novels from Australia, Canada and Africa as well as from the UK, and are available to view on the website.
The judges added: "We would like to thank our new Academy for helping us reach the longlist, and for bringing to our attention gems from further afield. Together with the Academy, we can now shine a broader light on good books set in the past. The Walter Scott Prize is now a showcase for some of the best fiction in English, reaching into our past with freshness and vigour.”
The judging panel will announce a shortlist – usually of six books – in April, and the winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017 will be announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose in Scotland, on 16th June.
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