The Walter Scott Prize 2020 Longlist

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will know that I have been slowly working through all of the books shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction since the prize began in 2010. I have discovered some great books and authors over the last few years thanks to this prize. You can see the progress I’ve made with this here – and I know there are other bloggers working on similar projects too.

The longlist for the 2020 prize has been announced today and includes lots of intriguing titles. I’m not planning on trying to read the entire longlist – I’m waiting until the shortlist is announced – but I would still like to read as many of these as I can.

Here are the twelve books on this year’s longlist:

The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey (Atlantic)
The Parisian by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape)
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee (OneWorld)
To Calais, in Ordinary Time by James Meek (Canongate)
The Offing by Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury)
The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan (Serpent’s Tail)
Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker)
The Redeemed by Tim Pears (Bloomsbury)
A Sin of Omission by Marguerite Poland (Penguin South Africa)
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (Doubleday)
This is Happiness by Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)
The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood (Picador)

I have only read two of these so far: I enjoyed Once Upon a River and although To Calais, in Ordinary Time wasn’t really my sort of book, I did predict in my review that it would be nominated for awards and I’ve been proved right! I already have Shadowplay on my TBR, as well as the first book in the Tim Pears trilogy of which The Redeemed is the final part, but I know very little or nothing about most of the others.

Have you read any of the books on this year’s longlist? Which ones do you think will be shortlisted? We’ll find out in April.

20 thoughts on “The Walter Scott Prize 2020 Longlist

  1. whatcathyreadnext says:

    I’ve only read Once Upon A River which I would love to see make the shortlist. I have The Narrow Land, The Parisian, The Hiding Game and The Offing in my TBR pile so I’ve pulled those out to try to read. Well done for tipping the James Meek. We really should have thought of Tim Pears as he seems to get nominated most years! I like the sound of pretty much all the others. Overall I think it’s a super list.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, it looks like a great list – I’m interested in reading almost all of these. I think it’s definitely time I read something by Tim Pears to see what I’ve been missing!

  2. whatmeread says:

    I like Niall Williams, although I haven’t read this book, and I have Shadowplay on my pile to read. I didn’t think that much of Setterfield’s book, though.

    • Helen says:

      I enjoyed the Setterfield book but hadn’t expected to see it on this list. I haven’t read anything by Niall Williams so I hope This is Happiness will be a good place to start.

      • whatmeread says:

        I absolutely loved his History of the Rain. I also read and enjoyed Four Letters of Love. I didn’t think the Setterfield book was good enough to end up on a prize list.

  3. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but Once Upon a River is one I want to cross off my TBR! I feel like I’ve seen Shadowplay everywhere, and How We Disappeared is having a great year to be on the Women’s Prize longlist, too.

    • Helen says:

      I enjoyed Once Upon a River – I hope you do too. I’m looking forward to reading Shadowplay as I seem to be seeing it everywhere as well!

  4. Elle says:

    Shadowplay is great, and Tim Pears deserves so much more attention, so I’m pleased he’s on this list! Of the other ones I’ve read, I felt The Parisian was all right (but too long), The Offing was inoffensive but a bit inconsequential, and The Warlow Experiment was exceptionally good. The latter in particular also hasn’t had nearly as much buzz as it deserves!

  5. Cathy746books says:

    I’ve read Shadowplay and The Narrow Land – both of which I loved. I have This is Happiness in my TBR andI like Niall Williams writing so I’m going to try and get to that oen this month.

    • Helen says:

      I can’t wait to read Shadowplay. I hadn’t thought about reading The Narrow Land until now, but I like the sound of it and am glad to hear you loved it!

  6. Liz says:

    I really enjoyed The Narrow Land – sparse, taught writing which echoes the nature of Hopper’s paintings. Very clever. I would not have thought of this as a historical novel though!

    • Helen says:

      The Narrow Land sounds great. I definitely want to read that one! And I know what you mean – the 1950s seems a bit too recent, although I think the Walter Scott Prize classes anything over 60 years ago as historical.

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