Per the BBC: "Judges said this reflected the 40% increase in entries for the prize as well as the 'high quality of historical fiction' currently being published." An excellent sign for the genre – a 40% increase is significant. In addition, now that the prize has reached its 6th year, knowledge about it has become even more widespread, and publishers are no doubt paying attention and submitting more titles than ever.
The longlist includes:
The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis (Holocaust in Germany)
The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry (20th-c Ireland and Africa)
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (17th-c Amsterdam)
The Lie by Helen Dunmore (WWI England)
Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre (17th-c England; out in April in the US)
In the Wolf's Mouth by Adam Foulds (North Africa and Sicily, WWII)
Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud (1914 England)
Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut (India in 1912)
Wake by Anna Hope (1920s England)
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (11th-c England)
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee (WWII Germany)
A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (WWI and after; Turkey, England, Peshawar)
The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak (16th-c Istanbul; out in April in the US)
The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling (14th-c China)
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (1922 London)
When I posted about the list on the Historical Novel Society's Facebook group on Tuesday, the reaction was enthusiastic about the award itself, mixed about the choices. No one had read all of them, or close, which is to be expected. The three I've read were books I enjoyed, for the most part, but I wouldn't put them on a favorites list.
Author Douglas Jackson noted on FB that the books were historical fiction of the literary sort, which is a good point. Apart from The Miniaturist, they would seem to fit more closely with literary (elegantly written, character-centered, more slowly paced) historical fiction than with the "genre" variety.
I've linked up my reviews of the three I'd read (I can thank Booklist for assigning the books to me). Which ones have you read? Feel free to leave links in the comments if you've reviewed them. Which are you rooting for, if any? Would you put any on your list of top reads for 2014/5?