Sally Rooney has been nominated for the Encore Award in a shortlist dominated by independent presses.
The £10,000 prize, which celebrates the achievement of outstanding second novels, features shortlisted titles almost entirely published by indies such as Faber, Salt Publishing, Peepal Tree Press and Sandstone Press with JM Originals the sole contender larger publishers.
Rooney’s much-acclaimed tale of two college friends, Normal People (Faber), is recognised days after the Irish 28-year-old scooped Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. Joining Rooney on the six-strong list are Faber stablemate the satire Perfidious Albion by Sam Byers and Gamble (Salt) by Kerry Hadley-Pryce which explores a portrait of a marriage. Anthony Joseph’s experimental story Kitch (Peepal Tree Press) is also shortlisted along with Crocodile (Sandstone Press) by Daniel Shand and Sam Thompson’s Jott (JM Originals).
The Encore Award was first presented in 1990 to celebrate the achievement of outstanding second novels. It is administered by the Royal Society of Literature, the national charity for the advancement of literature. Nikita Lalwani joined Gordon and Williams as judges for 2019. Previous winners include Colm Tóibín, A L Kennedy, Anne Enright, Ali Smith, Evie Wyld, and Sunjeev Sahota.
In addition, the RSL administers the RSL Ondaatje Prize for writing on a sense of place, the RSL Christopher Bland Prize for debut novelists and popular non-fiction writers over the age of 50 and the V S Pritchett Short Story Prize.