A “dazzling” six-book shortlist has been announced for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, with luminaries Peter Carey, Andrew Miller and Michael Ondaatje included in the selection.
A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey (Faber), revolving around the 1950s Redex Trial races, is among those up for the prize. It is joined by Cressida Connolly’s After The Party (Viking), praised by judges as “utterly engrossing” for its portrayal of sisters in a 1938 English country house. Also shortlisted are two Jonathan Cape books: Samantha Harvey's 1491-set fourth novel The Western Wind – described as a “rare and wonderful achievement” – and Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, set in post-war 1945 London.
Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller (Sceptre) is also in the running, following as it does the British Army’s withdrawal to Corunna in January 1809, along with Man Booker-shortlisted novel in verse The Long Take by Robin Robertson (Picador), set in the violent streets of post-war America and illustrated with grainy black and white photographs.
The judges of the 2019 Prize are Alistair Moffat, Elizabeth Buccleuch, Elizabeth Laird, Katharine Grant, James Holloway, James Naughtie and Kirsty Wark.
They said: “Over the 10 years of our prize, we have been able to throw a spotlight onto an amazing variety of books and historical periods. This year is no exception, with a shortlist of dazzling diversity. What a privilege it is, to go on a journey through the fictional centuries, pick up gems that sparkle at us, and present them for new readers to discover.
“From the dark edges of cities to insular rural communities, and from long distance road trip to intercontinental adventure story, our shortlisted books dare to investigate themes and issues in unique ways. In its tenth year, it’s fitting that the prize is pushing the boundaries of historical fiction, whilst maintaining great writing as its most important criterion.”
A winner will be announced at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Scotland on 15th June. The winner receives £25,000, while each shortlisted author receives £1,000.
First awarded in 2010, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction honours the inventor of the historical fiction genre, Sir Walter Scott, and is sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. Last year’s prize was won by Benjamin Myers for The Gallows Pole (Bluemoose).