Patrick McGuinness has won the £10,000 RSL Encore Award for his “beautiful, haunting thriller” Throw Me To The Wolves (Jonathan Cape).
The prize is given annually to the best second novel of the year and was judged this time around by Royal Society of Literature fellows Edmund Gordon, Nikita Lalwani and Eley Williams.
The book follows a retired teacher who is accused of murdering a young neighbour and is then arrested by a detective who happens to be a former pupil.
Accepting his prize, McGuinness said: “I’ve always thought this award was one of the most empathetic around. It’s a real boost as well as an honour to win it because it understands that part of a writer’s life – neither sprint nor marathon – that gets forgotten.”
McGuinness is a novelist, poet, academic and translator. His first novel The Last Hundred Days (Seren) was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Fiction and the Wales Book of the Year. His memoir about growing up in post-industrial Belgium, Other People’s Countries (Vintage), won the Duff Cooper Prize.
He saw off competition from a shortlist featuring David Keenan's For the Good Times (Faber & Faber), Billy O’Callaghan's My Coney Island Baby (Jonathan Cape), Shiromi Pinto's Plastic Emotions (Influx Press) and Luiza Sauma's Everything You Ever Wanted (Viking).
Gordon said of the winning book: “A journey to the dark heart of modern British society, linking the inhumanity of our public school system to a wider cultural chill, this is a crime novel of rare dash and intelligence, full of discomfiting ideas and virtuosic prose.”
Lalwani added: “Throw Me To The Wolves is a novel that is saturated with small truths, tiny gems of knowing that linger and provoke long after putting the book down. A beautiful, haunting thriller.”