Walter Scott Academy recommends 20 historical novels

Walter Scott Academy recommends 20 historical novels

Titles by industry figures Mieke Ziervogel and Tom Tivnan are among the 20 historical novels published over the past year to be recommended by the Walter Scott Prize Academy.

Settings for the titles range from steamships in the Chilean Civil War to warships in Greenock during the Second World War, and from 1920s Hollywood to 18th century slavery in The Cape. The list includes newly published historical novels from Australia, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and England.

Tivnan, features and insight editor at The Bookseller, is on the list for his debut novel The Esquimaux (Silvertail Books), based on the true story of John Sackhouse, a native Greenlander; while Ziervogel, founder of independent publisher Peirene Press, has been chosen for The Photographer (Salt), set at the end of the Second World War when 11m Germans fled from east to west.

Other titles from independent publishers are The Death of the Fronsac by Neal Ascherson (Apollo), Goblin by Ever Dundas (Saraband), The Iron Age by Arja Kajermo (Tramp Press), My Beautiful Imperial by Rhiannon Lewis (Victorina Press), Soot by Andrew Martin (Corsair, UK) and The Secret Books by Marcel Theroux (Faber & Faber, UK).

Not yet published in the UK are Speakeasy by Alisa Smith (Douglas & McIntyre, Canada), A Reckoning by Linda Spalding (McClelland & Stewart, Canada), Softness of the Lime by Maxine Case (Umuzi, South Africa), The Water Beetles by Michael Kaan (Goose Lane Editions, Canada), and Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons by Jocelyn Nullity (Inanna Publications, Canada).

The list is concluded by Mrs Osmond by John Banville (Viking), He by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton), Larchfield by Polly Clark (Riverrun), Story Land by Catherine McKinnon (4th Estate), See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Tinder Press), A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert (Virago) and City of Crows by Chris Womersley (Picador).

The 20 books recommended by the Academy are in addition to the prize longlist of 13, which was released at the beginning of March and includes titles by the late Helen Dunmore, Jennifer Egan and Natasha Pulley. A shortlist will be revealed in April.

The Walter Scott Prize Academy is an advisory group feeding into the submission process of the Walter Scott Prize, and comprises "people at the centre of literary life" in the UK and Commonwealth countries, including the artistic directors of book festivals around the world, leading book retailers and literary critics. The Academy was created two years ago to help broaden the reach of the prize and strengthen its resources. 

Prize sponsor The Duchess of Buccleuch said: “We’re delighted with the depth and richness of the recommended titles that our learned academy from home and overseas have brought to our attention. We would like to thank our Academy for giving us the opportunity to shine a light and share historical novels from further afield.”