Thursday, February 02, 2017

More historical fiction prize winners - the Langum Prize and the Costa Awards

It's the season for literary prize announcements.  The shortlist for the 2016 Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction was posted last month, while the winner and finalist were announced this week.

Michele Moore's debut novel The Cigar Factory (Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2016) is the winner of the 2016 Langum Prize.

Per the organizer's comments: "This marvelous debut traces the lives of two working class families in Charleston during the years 1917-1946. The families are similar in many ways: devout and practicing Roman Catholics, headed by matriarchs who work in the local cigar factory, both struggling mightily for survival in severely limited circumstances. Yet they are dissimilar in ways crucial for Charleston in these years: one family is black and the other white... The author describes the difficult lives of these two families, both joys and sorrows, with great sensitivity and beauty."

See also the book's Facebook page for more details. Of interest to book groups: the author is available for discussions via Skype and can be contacted via the novel's website.

More details are posted at the Langum Trust.


Also, the Costa Award, a long-running British literary prize open to UK and Irish authors, announced their 2016 Book of the Year on January 31st. The winner happens to be a historical novel: Sebastian Barry's Days Without End (published in the US by Viking in January).

Days Without End tells the story of young Irishman Thomas McNulty, who crosses the Atlantic in the 1850s, fights in the Civil War, and has an intimate relationship with a fellow soldier.

For background, read The Guardian's interview with the author, in which he reveals how his son "instructed [him] in the magic of gay life."

Another historical novel on the Costa category winner list was Francis Spufford's Golden Hill, set in 1740s New York (First Novel Award). Golden Hill will be published in the US by Scribner this June.