Thursday, February 23, 2017

The 2017 Walter Scott Prize longlist, and the WSP Academy's recommended titles

The 13-book longlist for the 2017 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction was announced yesterday, and I've listed the judges' selections below.

Entries are limited to books published in the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth.  The original publisher was provided, and I've added notes with details on their US publisher, if it exists, as well as the historical setting.  Plus I posted some of my favorite covers.  The winner will be announced at the Borders Book Festival in Scotland in June.

Have you read any, and if so, what did you think?  I've only read one so far.

The longlist:

Jo Baker, A Country Road, A Tree (Doubleday) - also Knopf, 2016.  WWII-era Europe.

Julian Barnes, The Noise of Time (Jonathan Cape) - also Knopf, 2016.  The early 20th-c Soviet Union.

Sebastian Barry, Days Without End (Faber) - also Viking, 2017.  The US Civil War and American West.

Richard Francis, Crane Pond (Europa) - same US publisher. The Salem witch trials.

Linda Grant, The Dark Circle (Virago).  Post-WWII London.

Charlotte Hobson, The Vanishing Futurist (Faber).  Russia under the Bolsheviks.

Hannah Kent, The Good People (Picador Australia) - also forthcoming from Little, Brown, Sept. 2017. 19th-century Ireland.

Ed O’Loughlin, Minds of Winter (riverrun) - also Quercus, March 2017.  Victorian-era Arctic exploration.

Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent (Profile) - also forthcoming from Custom House/HarperCollins, June 2017. Late Victorian-era Essex, England.

Dominic Smith, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos (Allen & Unwin Australia) - also FSG, 2016. Three centuries: 1630s Amsterdam, 1950s NYC, and Sydney in 2000.

Francis Spufford, Golden Hill (Faber) - forthcoming from Scribner, June 2017. 18th-century New York.

Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday (Scribner) - also Knopf, 2016.  20th-century England.

Rose Tremain, The Gustav Sonata (Chatto & Windus) - also FSG, 2017. 20th-century Switzerland. This is the only one of the thirteen that I've read and reviewed.


In addition, the newly formed Walter Scott Prize Academy issued an additional list of recommended titles, and both this list and the longlist have international representation.

The WSP Academy's Recommended List:

Carol Birch, Orphans of the Carnival (Canongate) - also Doubleday, 2016. Carnival life in early 20th-century Europe and America.

Emily Bitto, The Strays (Legend Press) - also Twelve, 2017. Depression-era Australia.

Jessie Burton, The Muse (Picador) - also Ecco, 2016. The Spanish Civil War and 1960s London.

Tracy Chevalier, At the Edge of the Orchard (Borough Press) - also Viking, 2016. 19th-century Ohio and California.

Emma Donoghue, The Wonder (Picador) - also Little, Brown, 2016.  19th-century rural Ireland.

Susan Fletcher, Let Me Tell you About a Man I Knew (Virago).  Late 19th-century France.

Anna Hope, The Ballroom (Doubleday) - also Doubleday US, 2016. England in 1911.

Lauri Kubuitsile, The Scattering (Penguin South Africa). Early 20th-century South Africa; has US distribution.

Lynne Kutsukake, The Translation of Love (Knopf Canada) - also Viking, 2016. WWII-era Canada and Japan.

Eowyn Ivey, To the Bright Edge of the World (Tinder Press) - also Little, Brown, 2016. Alaska Territory in 1885.

Ian McGuire, The North Water (Scribner).  Also Henry Holt, 2016.  The 19th-century Arctic.

Abir Mukherjee, A Rising Man (Harvill Secker) - also Soho, 2017. Calcutta in 1919.

S.J. Parris, Conspiracy (HarperCollins).  Paris in 1585.

Steven Price, By Gaslight (Oneworld) - also FSG, 2017. Victorian London.

Ralph Spurrier, A Coin for the Hangman (Hookline Books).  1950s Britain.

Andrew Taylor, The Ashes of London (HarperCollins). Also HarperCollins US, March 2017.  The Great Fire, 17th-century London.

Natasha Walter, A Quiet Life (Borough Press).  Mid-20th century England.

A.N. Wilson, Resolution (Atlantic). 18th-century world exploration.

Alissa York, The Naturalist (Random House Canada). 19th-century America and Brazil.

Louisa Young, Devotion (Borough Press).  Pre-WWI England.

I like seeing award longlists even more than the final results -- more books to choose from!  And the "recommended" list provided by the Academy brings even more historical novels to readers' attention.  I've only read four, the ones with the reviews linked above, and enjoyed them.


  1. Thanks so much (sarcastically) for adding to my toppling TBR pile...