Debut novelist and York bookseller Fiona Mozley and cultural historian and biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett are in contention for the RSL Ondaatje Prize.
Mozley is nominated for the £10,000 award, for a book of the highest literary merit which best evokes the spirit of a place, for her “Yorkshire ballad” Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Elmet (JM Originals) while RSL fellow Hughes-Hallett has been recognised for her “multi-generational story of a house” Peculiar Ground (4th Estate). “An incredible story of extreme hardship leading to intellectual glory", Once Upon a Time in the East (Chatto & Windus), by London-based Xiaolu Guo is also shortlisted.
Meanwhile, Bloomsbury Circus has been tipped for The Epic City, described by judges as “a picture of contemporary Calcutta” by debut novelist Kushanava Choudhury and Parisian-born poet Pascale Petit’s Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books) offers "a story of trauma, illness, and tragedy and steeping it in the natural world". Rounding out the shortlist is Border (Granta) by Kapka Kassabova, featuring the author's "memories of Bulgaria’s bucolic beaches and its menacing border of the Cold War period" combined with observations of latter-day migrations.
This year’s judges are Tahmima Anam, Eva Hoffman and Daljit Nagra with the winner revealed on 14th May.
Last year's prize was scooped by Francis Spufford, a creative writing teacher at Goldsmiths College, University of London for his debut novel Golden Hill (Faber).
The prize is now in its 15th year for a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking a sense of place, and administered by the Royal Society in London.