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 2021 prize has just been announced and includes some titles that I would have predicted, as well as some that I’ve never even heard of! Here are the eleven books on this year’s list:
Hinton by Mark Blacklock (Granta)
The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte (HarperCollins Australia)
A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville (Canongate UK, Text Publishing Australia)
Mr Beethoven by Paul Griffiths (Henningham Family Press)
Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah (Bloomsbury)
A Treacherous Country by K L Kruimink (Allen & Unwin Australia)
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate)
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (Affirm Press Australia, Chatto & Windus UK)
I’m not at all surprised to see Hamnet on the list – although I didn’t love it as much as most other readers seem to have done, I’m sure it will be shortlisted and possibly win the overall prize. I didn’t particularly enjoy Islands of Mercy either, but again I can see that it’s a well-written, multi-layered novel and deserves its place on the longlist. The only other one I’ve read is The Year Without Summer, which I did find interesting even though it seemed more like a collection of short stories than a novel.
Of the other eight books, I do have a copy of The Mirror and the Light which I started to read last year and abandoned as I wasn’t in the mood for it; I’m hoping to finish it soon! I was already interested in reading A Room Made of Leaves, but am not familiar with any of the others so will have to investigate.
Have you read any of these? Which ones do you think should be shortlisted?