Eimear McBride and Laura Cumming have won Britain’s oldest literary award, the James Tait Black prize, worth £10,000 apiece in two categories: fiction and biography.
McBride [pictured] scooped the fiction prize for The Lesser Bohemians (Faber and Faber) about a love affair between two actors. Cumming won for The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velazquez (Chatto and Windus), a biography about Spanish court painter Diego Velázquez and a Victorian bookseller, John Snare, who thought he had found a lost painting of the artist. The Vanishing Man is Cumming' first biography.
The results were announced by broadcaster Sally Magnusson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival yesterday (14th August).
The James Tait Black Prizes judged from more than 400 novels with the shortlist nominated by academics and postgraduate students from the university. The two prizes are awarded annually by the University’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures for books published during the previous year.
Cumming’s book was chosen from a shortlist that featured A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters (4th Estate), A Stain in the Blood: The Remarkable Voyage of Sir Kenelm Digby by Joe Moshenska (William Heinemann) and Rasputin by Douglas Smith (Pan Macmillan).
McBride’s novel featured on the shortlist alongside A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker, (Doubleday), What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell (Picador) and The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan (4th Estate).