Four books chosen for this year’s Walter Scott Prize shortlist

FOUR books have been shortlisted for the prestigious Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

With two Scots, one Irishman and one Irish-Trinidadian, the shortlist is the first in the prize’s thirteen-year history not to include an English writer, and the first to consist of four books.

Settings include the torn and violent Scotland of the 1570s; a fictional Highland valley through three different eras; the Caribbean Oil Rush of the 1920s; and 20th century Europe, through the life of one of its most famous writers, Thomas Mann.

The judges said: “’The debate at the Walter Scott Award meetings is always lively. Hard choices have to be made. But informed, as always, by WSP’s criteria of ambition, innovation, enduring appeal, and writing quality, the four books on our shortlist shone brightly in the sky this year. We hope readers will celebrate each other’s art and craft and enjoy four very different stories told in very different ways.

First awarded in 2010 at Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction honors the inventor of the genre of historical fiction and relative of Buccleuch, Sir Walter Scott.

The jury for the prize is made up of Katie Grant (chair), Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie and Kirsty Wark.

The winner receives £25,000 and each shortlisted author receives £1,500, making the Walter Scott Prize one of the UK’s richest fiction prizes.

Its previous winners are Hilary Mantel and Sebastian Barry (twice winners), Andrea Levy, Tan Twan Eng, Robert Harris, John Spurling, Simon Mawer, Benjamin Myers, Robin Robertson and Christine Dwyer Hickey.

Shortlisted books are: Rose Nicholson by Andrew Greig which is set in 1573 and opens with the fall of Edinburgh Castle to the reformers, News of the Dead by James Robertson which is set in a remote Scottish glen where three people notables have lived through different times, Amanda Smyth’s Fortune which is set in the oil rush of 1920s Trinidad and involves a man in search of a fortune and Colm Tóibín’s The Magician which dramatizes the life of novelist Thomas Mann.

The winner will be announced at a special event at the Borders Book Festival on Friday, June 17, 2022, which also honors winners of the prize’s counterpart for young writers, the Young Walter Scott Prize.

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