Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction unveils 2020 longlist

Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction unveils 2020 longlist

The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has unveiled this year’s longlist after "lively debates" among the judges.

Now in its 11th year and with more submissions than ever before according to the judges, 12 works of historical fiction are competing for the £25,000 prize.

Penguin Random House imprints lead this year's longlist with Isabella Hammad’s The Parisian (Jonathan Cape), Marguerite Poland’s A Sin of Omission (Penguin South Africa), Joseph O’Connor’s Shadowplay (Harvill Secker) and Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River (Doubleday).

Independent publishers comprise the majority of the longlisted books with Christine Dwyer Hickey’s The Narrow Land (Atlantic), James Meek’s To Calais, in Ordinary Time (Canongate), Jing-Jing Lee’s How We Disappeared (Oneworld) and Alix Nathan’s The Warlow Experiment (Serpent’s Tail).

Bloomsbury sees 2017 winner Benjamin Myer return to the longlist with The Offing, with Tim Pear’s The Redeemed and Niall Williams This is Happiness also shortlisted. Picador’s The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood has also made the list.

The prize also unveiled a new chair of judges, novelist and columnist Katie Grant, succeeding Alistair Moffat who is stepping down after 10 years.

Grant said: "It’s a great privilege to chair the Walter Scott Prize judging panel; a challenge, too, to steer this prize through the choppy waters of contemporary literary debate. Luckily, I don’t face the challenge alone. As we often remark, our judging meetings are like the best book club in the world, with vigorous analysis in line with the submission criteria, all of us acutely aware of our responsibility towards a prize of such value and influence. This year’s debates have already been lively. They’ll be livelier still before we announce the shortlist. Every year, there are tough calls to make!"

The judging panel this year includes Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie and Kirsty Wark. The prize is sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch who have distant family links with Scott, described by the prize as the inventor of the historical fiction genre.

A shortlist will be announced at the beginning of April and each shortlisted author will receive £1,500, an increase from £1,000 in previous years, making it one of the richest literary prizes in the UK.

The winner will be announced at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Scotland on 12th June.

Previous winners include Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate, 2010), The Long Song by Andrea Levy (Headline, 2011), On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry (Faber and Faber, 2012), The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon, 2013), An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (Dubray, 2014), The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling (Duckworth, 2015), Tightrope by Simon Mawer (Little, Brown 2016) Days without End by Sebastian Barry (Faber and Faber, 2017), The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury, 2018) and The Long Take by Robin Robertson (Picador, 2019).