The longlist for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has been announced, with thirteen books in contention for the prize, which uniquely honours new fiction set in the past. The longlist announcement coincides with the appointment of two new judges, Jackie Kay and James Naughtie.
The 2016 longlist is:
A GOD IN RUINS by Kate Atkinson
SWEET CARESS by William Boyd
A PETROL SCENTED SPRING by Ajay Close
A PLACE CALLED WINTER by Patrick Gale
DICTATOR by Robert Harris
DEVASTATION ROAD by Jason Hewitt
DEATH AND MR PICKWICK by Stephen Jarvis
MRS ENGELS by Gavin McCrea
END GAMES IN BORDEAUX by Allan Massie
TIGHTROPE by Simon Mawer
SIGNS FOR LOST CHILDREN by Sarah Moss
CURTAIN CALL by Anthony Quinn
SALT CREEK by Lucy Treloar
The Chair of Judges, Alistair Moffat, commented on behalf of the panel:
“2015 saw both a flowering and broadening of the historical fiction genre that is the backbone of the Walter Scott Prize. The thirteen books that make up our long list are the most illuminating, entertaining, and sweeping of those submissions that fitted our rules on timespan. The judges and readers who collate the long list had to make difficult decisions, and also had to ask pertinent questions about the nature of fiction that flows between the past and the present. What is the relationship between contemporary recollection and the reliability of memory? Where does history cease and myth begin?
“Walter Scott was the first in a long line of authors who have transformed history into stories that transport the reader straight into the epicentre of another time and place, where characters live and feel, and are pounded by forces beyond themselves. We believe that this is the central strength of the books that make up our 2016 longlist, and we salute the authors that make this great literary genre thrive and move forward."
The longlist is selected by the Judges, and by a panel of ‘everyman’ readers throughout the UK who make recommendations based on the prize criteria. The Prize has welcomed two new Judges this year: writer Jackie Kay and broadcaster James Naughtie join Alistair Moffat (chair), Elizabeth Buccleuch, Elizabeth Laird ,and Kirsty Wark on the judging panel.
First awarded in 2010, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction honours the founding father of historical fiction, Sir Walter Scott. Previous winners include Hilary Mantel, Andrea Levy, Sebastian Barry, Tan Twan Eng, Robert Harris, and John Spurling. The 2016 longlist includes one former prize winner, Robert Harris, and three former shortlistees: Kate Atkinson, Simon Mawer and Anthony Quinn. Longlisted books this year feature a wide variety of settings and periods, from Ancient Rome to South Australia, and from Saskatchewan and Japan to Victorian London, and beyond to explore the tumultuous landscapes of pre- and post-war Europe.
Sponsored by Sir Walter Scott’s distant kinsmen the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction is open to books first (or simultaneously) published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth. Reflecting the subtitle ‘Sixty Years Since’ of Scott’s most famous work Waverley, the majority of the storyline must have taken place 60 years ago or more.
The judging panel will announce a shortlist – usually of six books – at the end of March, and the winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2016 will be announced at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose in Scotland, on 18th June 2016.