The Walter Scott Prize committee were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Barry Unsworth earlier this week. His book The Quality of Mercy has been shortlisted for this year’s Walter Scott Prize, which will be announced on 16th June.
The Quality of Mercy, published by Hutchinson last Autumn, was the sequel to his 1992 Booker Prize-winning novel about the 18th century slave trade, Sacred Hunger. Unsworth was the author of 17 novels. Morality Play and Pascali's Island were also shortlisted for the Booker, in 1995 and 1980.
The Bookseller today reports Hutchinson publishing director Jocasta Hamilton as saying: "We're incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to publish Barry Unsworth's last novel The Quality of Mercy, which has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize. Many of us met Barry when he visited London in 2010 and were as charmed in person as we have been thrilled by his novels."
Barry Unsworth died in Italy, on June 5th. The Walter Scott Prize judges and directors of Borders Book Festival are deeply sorry not to have the opportunity to welcome him to Melrose next Saturday.