The North Water wins £10k RSL Encore Award

The North Water wins £10k RSL Encore Award

Ian McGuire has been awarded the £10,000 RSL Encore Award for the best second novel of the year for his work The North Water (Scribner).

McGuire's whaling tale The North Water was described by the judges as a "stunning story of mid 19th-century seafarers" which "gripped from start to finish".

Alex Clark, chair of judges, said: "The North Water works by disorientation, from its violent opening scenes to its voyage through high seas and blocks of ice; it creates a series of unstable, dangerous environments, and peoples them with the good, the bad and all points in between."

McGuire said he was "delighted" and "grateful" to win the 2017 award. "Second novels can be a struggle to write, and The North Water was many years in the making, so it’s a great pleasure to get this recognition from the judges", he said.

McGuire grew up near Hull and studied at the University of Manchester, where he later became a founder and co-director of the university’s Centre for New Writing. In 2016, The North Water was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and nominated the LA Times Book Prize 2016.

McGuire's novel beat off competition from Jenni Fagan’s The Sunlight Pilgrims (William Heinemann), Paul Kingsnorth’s Beast (Faber), Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians (Faber), Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent (Serpent’s Tail) and Sara Taylor’s The Lauras (William Heinemann) to win the award.

In separate news, a reader's poll administered by the RSL has found that the nation’s favourite second novel is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

The RSL launched the poll to find out which second published novel is Britain's favourite, in recognition that writing a second novel, however successful an author's debut, is "famously difficult" with "pressure always on its successor".

In second place was Tan Twan Eng's The Garden of Evening Mists (Canongate), while Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun (4th Estate) were in third and fourth place respectively.

Barbara Pym's Excellent Women (Virago) was voted into fifth place, Gabriel Garcia Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (Penguin) came sixth, while in seventh place was Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. Salman Rushdie's Midnight’s Children (Vintage Classics) was in eight place, while in ninth place was James Joyce's Ulysses. Rounding out the top 10 in joint tenth place is Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (HarperCollins).

Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the RSL, said: "What a cornucopia of reading these top ten books provide! Who would have thought the Nation’s Favourite Second Novels would result in such a diverse and enticing short list. I have a fantasy of getting under the blankets and not re-emerging until I’ve read or re-read them all. Here’s to second novels."